-By Michael Peltier
September 27, 2012- Voter protection groups said on Thursday Florida election officials had reneged on an agreement to ease up on efforts to purge non-U.S. citizens from voter rolls and accused the Republican-led administration of trying to intimidate voters.
Earlier this month, voting groups had dropped a legal challenge to a state purge of voter lists after Florida election officials said they had greatly reduced the number of potentially ineligible voters due to errors on an original list.
But on Wednesday, Department of State officials sent a new list of 198 names to county election supervisors culled from a Department of Homeland Security's database that tracks residency status.
The new purge effort was "not within the spirit of our agreement," said Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, director of voter protection for Advancement Project, a Washington D.C.-based racial justice advocacy group. "It creates intimidation and confusion and the state knows very well this is going to get some eligible voters."
The move was the latest in a series of complex developments on voter registration in the key battleground state of Florida, the state which famously decided the 2000 election in which George W. Bush beat Democrat Al Gore after a legal battle over Florida's results that went to the Supreme Court.
Advocacy groups say the push to purge the voter rolls of non-citizens is a thinly veiled attempt to disqualify and intimidate Hispanic and African-American voters, as well as other recent immigrants, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates.
Florida is among a handful of Republican-led states that have passed laws in recent years to tighten voter requirements.