A yearlong stalemate between Florida and Washington, D.C., ended Saturday when the federal government gave the state access to a federal citizenship database, which the state will use to resume an election-year purge of noncitizen voters, the St. Petersburg Times reports. After repeatedly refusing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed to open its database to Florida’s voter registration system. The state will now cross-check the names of Florida voters against a federal citizenship database known as SAVE, or Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.
It wasn’t clear why Homeland Security changed course. The reversal comes after a federal judge in Florida refused to halt purge efforts. It was a victory for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has said the purge is necessary to guarantee fair elections. Democrats and voter advocacy groups have criticized Scott for the action, saying it is aimed at Democratic-leaning voters in an election year. Some groups filed lawsuits to block it. Within days, Florida will resume the laborious process of purging noncitizens from the list of 11.2 million registered voters. A previous purge based on a flawed list of 2,700 drivers with voter cards who were suspected of being noncitizens ended last month when county election supervisors decided the list was inaccurate and unreliable.