Bloom said the American Civil Rights Union, which filed suit against Snipes because of the potential for voter fraud, had not proven that the Broward elections office violated the National Voting Rights Act. The ACRU and other conservative ...
A federal judge Friday cleared Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes in a lawsuit that accused her office of facilitating voter fraud.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom concluded that Snipes had a program in place “that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters by reason of death or change of address.”
Bloom said the American Civil Rights Union, which filed suit against Snipes because of the potential for voter fraud, had not proven that the Broward elections office violated the National Voting Rights Act.
The ACRU and other conservative organizations have accused more than 140 elections offices nationwide of not doing a good enough job purging their rolls, with many having more registered voters than eligible voting-age residents. The groups want the elections offices to be more aggressive in removing ineligible voters, including non-citizens and people who move, die, become felons or become mentally incapacitated.
The effort has come under criticism from voter rights groups that fear an overly aggressive removal process could lead to voter suppression by snaring eligible voters, too. The Broward case could provide a precedent for other challenges.
Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has been on trial, defending her office against claims it isn’t doing enough to remove ineligible voters from the county’s voter rolls, a practice that could lead to...
Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation that represented the ACRU, said his side was reviewing the opinion and assessing its options.
“We’re disappointed in the ruling,” Churchwell said. “The evidence that we presented and the causes that led to them, they’re still there.”
The ACRU case focused on voter lists that included dead people, 130-year-olds, felons, duplicate registrations, invalid commercial addresses and “improbably high” voter registration rates. Snipes testified that some people who have been registered “are not eligible to vote and they slip through.”
The lead attorney for the ACRU, J. Christian Adams, was a member of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump created after claiming that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally.
In weighing the evidence, Bloom said Snipes was following the requirements set out by the state.
The voting rights act requires elections offices to make a “reasonable effort” to remove ineligible voters, but doesn’t define that effort. Bloom said that what the ACRU was seeking was “too subjective and would lead to an arbitrary, non-uniform, unworkable, and unpredictable application.”
“It’s the result that we expected,” said Burnadette Norris-Weeks, the attorney representing Snipes. “We know we’re following the law in doing what’s required by state and federal law.”
During the five-day federal trial in Miami last summer, Snipes said tens of thousands of ineligible voters are removed each year. Voters who have died, become felons or become mentally incapacitated are identified in data sent daily from the state. To catch voters who have moved out of the county, a national change of address search is done every two years. Mailers are sent out to voters regularly, and the office reacts to those that are returned undeliverable.
Churchwell said Bloom’s opinion leaves Broward voters without closure.
“It’s a very extreme interpretation of the law and not one we’ve seen in other states,” he said. “We have a court that’s happy with the bare minimum.”
lbarszewski@SunSentinel.com, 954-356-4556 or Twitter @lbarszewski
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