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Legal Groups Notify Florida Secretary of State That “Potential Felon” Purge List Violates the Law

July 8, 2004

For Immediate Release
Thursday, July 8, 2004

For Further Information:
Natalia Kennedy, 212 998–6736

Legal Groups Notify Florida Secretary of State that Potential Felon Purge List Violates State and Federal Law

New York, NY—A letter sent today to Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood details numerous legal violations in connection with the States identification of over 47,000 potential felons and instructions to county election officials to take steps to purge these voters from the rolls. A previous study by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, one of the legal groups responsible for the letter, found that the purge list likely includes thousands of people who are eligible to vote because the State restored their voting rights, after they served their sentences.

Said senior attorney Monique Dixon of the Advancement Project, With this list, Florida makes voters jump through hoops to exercise the most basic right of American citizenship.

Florida officials apparently are ready to sacrifice thousands of eligible voters’ rights to keep “potential felons” away from the polls, says Jessie Allen co-counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

In addition to other issues, the letter asserts that State election officials violated federal and state law by:

  • Distributing the inaccurate potential felon purge list to county election supervisors accompanied by misleading information about the lists accuracy;
  • Instructing the supervisors to notify those on the purge list that they will be removed from the voter rolls if they fail to respond; and
  • Failing to correct those instructions after their illegality was specifically pointed out.
The notice letter also presents a long list of legal problems with the notification letter the Brevard County Supervisor sent out to voters on the list, warning them that unless they responded in 30 days they would be ineligible to vote.

The letter was sent by a team of co-counsel, including the Brennan Center, Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., Debevoise and Plimpton, L.L.P. in New York, and Florida Justice Institute and Thomasina Williams in Miami.