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Secretary of State Ken Detzner Files Lawsuit Against U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Seeks Access to Database of Non-Citizens to Ensure Accuracy of Florida Voter Rolls

Federal government agency preventing Florida from fulfilling statutory requirement

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner and the Florida Department of State today filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for failing to meet its statutory obligation to provide access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database, a database of information necessary to confirm the status of potential non-citizens and help ensure the integrity of Florida elections.

"For nearly a year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide us the information necessary to identify and remove ineligible voters from Florida’s voter rolls,” said Secretary Detzner. “We can’t let the federal government delay our efforts to uphold the integrity of Florida elections any longer. We’ve filed a lawsuit to ensure the law is carried out and we are able to meet our obligation to keep the voter rolls accurate and current."

In 2011, the Florida Department of State received information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicating that non-citizens may be registered to vote in Florida. However, while processing the new information, it became evident that the Department of State’s ability to validate a person’s legal status as up-to-date was limited. In order to validate such information, the department began seeking access to the SAVE database.

After nearly a year of requests for access to the SAVE database, the federal government has shown no signs of meeting their legal requirement to provide access. However, federal law expressly requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to respond to state inquiries seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within its jurisdiction for any purpose authorized by law. Additionally, DHS recently stated that the SAVE database could be used for voter registration purposes in a document published September 21, 2011.

ATTACHED: Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief: Florida Department of State vs. U.S. Department of Justice, et al.