In a segment titled onscreen "What's the Matter with FL," MSNBC's Alex Wagner today continued her network's efforts to flog conservative Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) for his voter "purge." This despite the fact that the "purge" -- which targeted a mere 0.02 percent of registered voters in the state-- has not disenfranchised a single eligible voter and has in fact brought to light noncitizens who were illegally registered to vote. What's more, neither Wagner nor anyone else on her panel informed viewers that the Obama administration itself appears to be violating federal law by not helping Florida with its voter rolls cleanup effort.
To service her network's spin on the matter, Wagner turned to Rolling Stone magazine's Eric Bates and Ari Berman, the latter of whom insisted that the Sunshine State's efforts were part of a GOP effort to "depress the turnout" of Obama-friendly voting blocs.
Of course, Berman failed to produce nor did Wagner demand evidence to substantiate such a claim. For her part, Wagner simply took it on face value and argued that, because the suspected noncitizens questioned by Florida were 58 percent Hispanic, 40 percent Democratic, and 14 percent African-American that it was proof enough that Gov. Scott had personally taken it upon himself to "purge the voter rolls."
"You've got a Southern state purging the rolls, clearly of people of color," agreed Bates.
But as Miami Herald reporter Marc Caputo informed MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell yesterday, there's a simple reason most of the suspected noncitizens caught in the "purge" were Hispanic. "Florida's largest immigrant group happen to be Hispanics and they're disproportionately registering as independents," Caputo noted.
Caputo also told Mitchell that some 13 noncitizens were caught by the state's inquiry thus far.
MSNBC has latched onto the fact that the Obama/Holder Department of Justice has called on Florida to stop its voter registration reconciliation as damning evidence that Florida is in the wrong,
But as the Herald's Marc Caputo reported today, there are legal experts who say the DOJ overstepped its bounds. What's more, it appears it is the Obama administration itself is derelict in enforcing a federal law which requires it to help states to remove noncitizens from voter rolls (emphases mine):
The Department of Justice acted politically and erred in demanding Florida cease its purge of noncitizen voters, according to a conservative former Justice lawyer who helped enforce federal voting laws for years.
The Justice Department’s voting-rights section said last week that Florida’s attempted purge probably broke federal law because the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires federal permission for the program and the 1993 National Voter Registration Act bans voter purges within 90 days of a federal election.
“If this ended up in court, the DOJ would lose,” said Hans von Spakovsky, with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “The justice department doesn’t have a basis in the statutes they’re citing.”
But von Spakovsky and other Republican lawyers say the law probably has been broken — but by the federal government itself.
Under federal law, the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to furnish citizenship information to the state for, among other things, checking voter registration rolls. But DHS, first asked for the data in mid October 2011, has refused, email correspondence shows.
A DHS spokesman declined to comment on whether the agency is breaking the law.