MIAMI, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Florida ruled that the purging of non-citizens from voter rolls can go on.
Florida has identified 198 voters as potential non-citizens among its estimated 11.4 million registered voters and has sent those names to independent county elections supervisors for their review, The Miami Herald reported.
U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch on Thursday ruled that the rolls purge can continue as federal law doesn't prohibit the state from removing voters who were never lawfully eligible to register in the first place.
A coalition of voting-rights groups argued at a hearing Monday that federal law prohibits purging voter rolls 90 days before an election.
"What we're saying is that going after U.S. citizens with Hispanic and Haitian last names and potentially disenfranchising them is not the right way," said Jose Suarez, communications director for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, one of the groups that sued over the purge. "The state has to find a better way."
Attorneys for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner countered that the state could purge non-citizens at any time because they should have never been on the voter rolls.
"We're very pleased another federal court has ruled that Florida's efforts to remove noncitizens from the voter rolls are lawful and in the best interest of Florida voters," Detzner said in a statement Thursday. "Ensuring ineligible voters can't cast a ballot is a fundamental aspect of conducting fair elections."