Amid rising concerns of voter fraud, Florida leaders are embroiled in a government lawsuit over the names of registered voters.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he wants to purge the rolls of ineligible voters - something that has the Department of Homeland Security up in arms.
The controversy began when Scott recently asked the state to identify all non-U.S. citizens who registered to vote illegally in November's presidential election.
Using DMV records and data from the Department of Homeland Security, officials found more than 180,000 names that were suspect. Scott explained that he only wants to defend the rights of legitimate voters.
"I'm going to make sure that every citizen here… I want to defend their right to vote," he said. "I don't want their vote diluted by someone who doesn't have the right to vote."
With 2012 being a presidential election year, voter fraud is a huge issue. Florida is the nation's most important swing state, and a controversy like this will almost certainly revive the scars of the 2000 presidential election debacle.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is suing, ordering the state to immediately cease what it calls "unlawful conduct." Liberals have sided with the agency and accused the governor of suppressing votes.
"He loves to defy the law," Democratic strategist Gayle Andrews said. "Everyone knows that state law doesn't supersede the federal government. The federal government tells you (then) you have to stop."
But Scott refuses to stop. He says the purge is legal and is suing the federal government to gain access to the state's voter registry database.
The governor's supporters say it's vital to combat voter fraud, which is more prevalent than people know .
According to a recent Pew Research Center study revealed the following:
- Nearly 2 million (1.8 million) dead people are listed on America's voter rolls.
- Nearly 3 million (2.7 million) are registered to vote in more than one state.
- And 24 million voter registrations nationwide are no longer valid.
"One of the principles of any fair election is making sure the person who casts a vote is legally eligible to do so," The Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil rights groups are also challenging Florida's attempt to remove ineligible voters.
"The governor's claim that he needs information from the Department of Homeland Security to justify his illegal purge of voters is an acknowledgement that he was using bad data and kicking eligible citizens off the voter rolls in the first place," The AFP quoted Howard Simon, director of the ACLU's Florida operations.