Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark announced Friday that she halted processing the list of potential non-citizen voters distributed to all Florida Supervisors of Elections by the Division of Elections.
"The accuracy of the voter registration database is of the utmost importance,” Clark said in a news release, “and we will continue our efforts to ensure the information is current. However, we will not use unreliable data.”
Nancy Whitlock, communications director for the Supervisor of Elections, said that the decision is partly in response to Thursday's U.S. Department of Justice letter to Florida ordering the state to stop purging voter rolls.
"It is partly in response (to the DOJ) but we were already considering halting" the process, Whitlock said in an interview with Patch.
In Pinellas County, Whitlock said there were 36 people identified on the list as non-citizens. Five were actually legal citizens, she said.
"We’ve been told not to proceed with the verification process, and we don’t want to take anyone off the list who could be an eligible voter," Whitlock told Patch. "At this point we are just stopping the process. Not doing anything else with it further."
Clark and other Supervisors questioned the accuracy of the information and the timing of its release, after learning that the state had the list of voters more than a year prior to distributing it, a news release said.
In a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Justice Department said the state's procedure to verify voting rolls violates the Voting Rights Act of 1973 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
The Department of Justice said the system to remove voters from the rolls cannot take place within 90 days of an election. Because of the Aug. 14 primary, Florida needs to stop the process now, according to the Department of Justice.
The letter said the state has until June 6 to respond:
"To enable us to meet our responsibility to enforce federal law, please inform us by June 6 of the action that the State of Florida plans to take concerning the matters discussed in this letter. Specifically, please advice whether the State intend to cease the practice discussed above, so that the Department can determine what further action, if any, is necessary."