Appeals Court: Florida's 2012 voter purge was illegal

Tampa, Florida -- An appeals court says Governor Rick Scott's administration broke the law in 2012 when it conducted that controversial voter purge before the big election.

The governor called it an attempt to rein-in voter fraud while critics contended it was designed to suppress the minority vote and people who should have been able to vote got caught-up in the wide dragnet.

Among them? Retired Navy Captain Peter Kehrig, who was more than a little angry when he spoke with 10 News about how he found out his name had been removed from Florida's voting rolls.

Kehrig had been serving overseas, and had missed the previous two elections. The warning letter informing him that he would be dropped from the rolls did not reach him in time.

"I just want to have an opportunity to cast my vote," he said. "I'm obviously disappointed. Not only is it a right that I've earned by being an American citizen, but I've served and tried to protect our country and I really believe it's a right I'm being denied."

Now, the 11th circuit Court of Appeals has ruled Gov. Rick Scott's administration broke the law in conducting the systematic purge within 90 days of an election, a time frame designed to give those who receive such notification enough time to register or appeal.

The court, in its opinion, also warned the Scott administration not to do it again.

Victor DiMaio, with the Hillsborough Hispanic Coalition says the Governor's office conducted the purge under false pretenses.

"There is no fraud," said DiMaio, "The Republican Party is trying to peel off as many voters as it can to give them a better shot to get elected."

Less than a week ago the Scott administration announced it was postponing its effort to conduct another voter purge until next year.

Today, in Tallahassee, 10 News asked the governor about the ruling but he declined to answer.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, running for governor again, praised the court's decision during a campaign stop in Tampa. He called the current administration's threat to conduct another voter purge unconscionable.

"The 11th circuit court said what they were doing is violating federal law. Well, there's a shock. You know? – It's what they do," said Crist.

Gov. Scott's Chief Elections Officer, Ken Ditzner issued a brief statement saying they were reviewing the decision.

Legal experts say the ruling would not stop the administration from conducting another voter purge outside the 90 day time frame, but doing so within that period before an election could bring sanctions from the court.


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