Florida Sen. Nelson: GOP disenfranchised voters

LARRY MARGASAK Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats and Republicans are sparring over whether voter ID laws and restricted early voting are attempts to disenfranchise African-American and Hispanic voters.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who recently became a Democrat, said their state's Republican Party deliberately tried to suppress the vote from those groups.

They testified Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa defended attempts to purge ineligible voters. He was backed by the secretaries of state from Arizona and Iowa, who said their strategy was to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots.

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said there have been only miniscule percentages of voters who were guilty of fraud. However, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said he has been trying to get access to a citizenship database from the Department of Homeland Security but received no cooperation.