Hundreds of legal voters in just one Florida county have been thrown off the voter rolls as part of an effort to purge “non-citizens” from participating in the 2012 election. The effort, spearheaded by Governor Rick Scott, is reminiscent of the effort in 2000 to purge the voter rolls in Florida, led by then-Governor Jeb Bush, brother of the man who would become President that year thanks to a razor-thin margin in the state.
According to Think Progress, data from Miami-Dade County’s Supervisor of Elections shows that:
• 1638 people in Miami-Dade County were flagged by the state as “non-citizens” and sent letters informing them that they were ineligible to vote.
• Of that group, 359 people have subsquently [sic] provided the county with proof of citizenship.
• Another 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county.
• The bulk of the remaining 1200 people have simply not responded yet to a letter sent to them by the Supervisor of Elections.
This is only for Miami-Dade County; a similar situation is occurring in Broward County. These are two of the most important counties for Democrats in statewide elections in Florida. The letters say that the Supervisor of Elections “has received information that you are not a citizen of the United States,” and that the individual has 30 days to contest the claim, or else face removal from the voter rolls in the state.
The voter purge lists were generated by comparing the voter rolls with Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data, as well as jury recusal forms. This matching program is considered to be prone to errors. The Tampa Bay Times did an analysis of the lists of potentially ineligible voters, and found that the majority of them were Hispanic, registered Democrats or “independent-minded.”
About 58 percent of those identified as potential noncitizens are Hispanics, Florida’s largest ethnic immigrant population. They make up just 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.
As many as 182,000 names are on the purge list. Florida’s Secretary of State resigned in February, seemingly over this issue.
In 2000 and 2002, then-Governor Jeb Bush used a similar kind of list to purge voters from the rolls. In that case, nearly half of the 94,000 on the list were African-American. The NAACP filed suit after the 2000 election over the list and other election problems in Florida, which led to a settlement. But problems continue.
Interestingly, in 2000, Bush had contracted with a private company to do the voter purge. This effort appears to be run out of the Division of Elections. I guess there’s no need for plausible deniability anymore.
The purge has been subject to legal challenge by a coalition called the Fair Elections Legal Network.
“Cleaning up voter rolls should be done with the utmost care and by following the law,” said Ben Hovland, Senior Counsel for the Fair Elections Legal Network. “There are already laws on the books that adequately address any attempt to register or vote illegally. However, this program places the burden of proof on voters. Eligible citizens who do not respond may be purged from the voter rolls and risk losing his or her vote. Florida should stop this effort immediately and restore the voting rights of anyone that has been affected by this faulty matching program.”
Moreover, Section 8 of the NVRA expressly requires that any program designed to remove ineligible voters from the rolls must be completed no later than 90 days before a primary or general election for federal office. Florida’s primary will take place on August 14, 2012, less than 90 days away. Therefore, even voters who have already been targeted must not be removed from the rolls before the 2012 election.
The resulting effect would not just have an impact on the Presidential election, where Florida is considered a swing state, but multiple Congressional and state legislative races. This is a hidden key to conservative success in the years ahead, as multiple states they currently control have instituted alleged anti-fraud laws that amount to voter suppression, particularly of minority communities and high-propensity Democratic voters.