Hills. Co. woman plantiff in voter purge lawsuit

By RaeChelle Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 03, 2012

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office has released the list of 72 people they contacted about being registered to vote illegally.

The records were demanded by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.

A letter went out to each person informing them that the office was notified that they might not be a US Citizen and were registered to vote in Hillsborough County anyway. It then gave them a Voter Acceptance or Denial form to be completed within 30 days.

The problem, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and joined by the Justice Department, is that the letter violates a rule requiring federal pre-clearance by the Department of Justice for five Florida counties including Hillsborough. The rule is in place because of past issues of discrimination. 

Pamela Gomez's name is not on that list yet but she fears every day that it will be.

"That anyone would deny me that right to vote, it was just a feeling that I would not wish upon anyone," said Gomez. 

The 22 year old became a citizen last year. Her driver's license was issued when she was 16 years old and not a citizen.  Since there is no system in place to change her status on her driver's license she believes she is a target in the push to purge voter rolls. Gomez said that is not fair. She worked hard to become a US Citizen and has embraced every part of it.

"I've gone to school. I pay my taxes, I'm a resident of the state of Florida," she said.

Gomez is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.  She is represented by the ACLU. Learning that the Justice Department joined their quest offered her a glimmer of hope.

"I was happy because justice was on our side. Very, very, happy that they are going in the right direction," said Gomez.

"It will have a chilling effect on voter registration and voter turnout until this is resolved," said Dr. Joyce Hamilton Henry, regional director of the ACLU.

Dr. Hamilton Henry hopes the lawsuit will be expedited because this is an election year.

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office refused to comment about their actions but did provide a list of the people involved in the purge as well as copies of the letter sent out to people they believed might not be US Citizens.