The DoJ had asked for a restraining order against the state of Florida to halt the process of purging the voter rolls of ineligible voters. A federal judge in Talahassee denied the request, but had some harsh words for the state about determining citizenship.
A federal judge rejected a request from the Obama administration to put an immediate stop to the state's non-citizen voter purge program.
The Justice Department had asked for a restraining order, arguing that the program attempting to remove 2,600 non-citizens from the voter rolls violated federal voting law that prohibits the systemic removal of voters 90 days before an election.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said that, according to his reading of the law, the 90-day provision did not apply to removing non-citizens from the rolls. But, he also chastised the state, saying there were "some problems" with the way that the program had been carried out.
"Determining citizenship is not as easy as the state would have it," Hinkle said in a ruling from the bench made about a half hour after arguments concluded. "Questioning someone's citizenship isn't as trivial as the state would have it."
Today's hearing was only to put an emergency stop to the program.
The state said it has not moved forward with more names because it needs access to better data. Originally, state officials said they had potentially identified up to 180,000 non-citizens by matching drivers' license records to voting rolls.
The state is doing the best it can, but the judge has a point. Florida has filed suit in Washington to gain access to Homeland Security database which would supply much more accurate information. That won't satsify the hysterics, but it will probably be enough to allow the program to continue.