(June 12, 2012, Weil News)
Lawyers in the Miami office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP have joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the American Civil Liberties Union in filing a lawsuit to halt Florida Governor Rick Scott’s plan to purge alleged non-citizens from the state’s voting rolls, on the ground that the state’s program violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which offers protections to minority voters.
Filed on June 8, 2012 in federal court in Tampa, Florida, the complaint claims that the state failed to obtain the preclearance required under the Voting Rights Act before implementing procedures to verify the eligibility of registered voters. The state compiled a purge list of “potential non-citizens” and directed county elections officials to notify the individuals on the list that they faced removal from the voting rolls unless they proved their citizenship within 30 days. Plaintiffs contend that the state’s purge list is based on inaccurate and outdated information and, as a result, eligible citizens are being targeted for removal from the state’s voting rolls.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with the Hispanic community to increase civic participation, and two recently naturalized US citizens from the Tampa area, Murat Limage, a Haitian-American, and Pamela Gomez, a Dominican-American, who are registered to vote. Mr. Limage recently received the state’s written notice that he faced removal from the voting rolls and was required to demonstrate proof of citizenship.
Partner Edward Soto, head of the Litigation Department in Weil’s Miami office, is leading Weil’s team on the case along with associates Edward McCarthy, Lauren Zerbinopoulos and Lara Bueso. He sees the suit’s first priority as obtaining discovery on how Florida generated its list and determine how many citizens may have been erroneously identified. “If we're right, anyone who has the right to vote won’t have to go through the hoops of proving they have the right,” said Soto. “There's a clear, bright-line problem under a procedure that's supposed to protect all of us.” Weil is participating in the lawsuit on a pro bono basis.