We’re starting to see more interest in the voter purge campaign happening down in Florida, where hundreds of thousands of voters are getting notices in the mail about their imminent cancellation from the voting rolls, based on a flawed comparison of data between those rolls and DMV data. This has already resulted in hundreds of known false positives just in Miami-Dade County alone, and an analysis of the purge lists shows that Democratic voters and particularly Hispanics are disproportionately targeted by it.
The New York Times has been the only national newspaper to really cover the situation in Florida, which Think Progress has scrutinized in detail. But the local papers in the state are raising awareness of the controversy. This has been helped by some attention to the issue by local Democrats. The Florida Democratic delegation for Congress urged Governor Rick Scott to stop the voter purge, saying that the process “fails to meet the basic standards of accountability.”
In particular, the Democrats used the spectacle of a WWII veteran being targeted for purging:
Bill Internicola was born in Brooklyn 91 years ago and received a Bronze Star for fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, but, according to the state of Florida, he may not be a U.S. citizen.
Internicola received a letter in May from the Broward supervisor of elections stating that it received “information from the State of Florida that you are not a United States citizen; however you are registered to vote.” The letter was part of a controversial state-led effort to rid the voter rolls of noncitizens. Similar letters were sent to 259 Broward voters [...]
Any effort to remove names from Broward’s voting rolls draws particular scrutiny because it is the most Democratic county in the state. It has more than 500,000 registered Democrats and could play a pivotal role in the outcome of a close presidential or U.S. Senate contest in November.
Deutch called Internicola an “American hero” and described him as “the face of Gov. Scott’s request to purge our voter rolls.”
(This could actually relate back to our previous discussion about Chris Hayes’ comments on Memorial Day weekend. Why is it somehow worse when a veteran gets targeted for voter suppression, rather than any other American? It’s a subtle symbol of this deification of the military, and all that attends that.)
In response to this, a spokesman for the Division of Elections boldly announced that there would be more names added to the purge lists:
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, defended the state’s actions. “It’s very important we make sure ineligible voters can’t cast a ballot,” he said in an email to the Herald on Tuesday.
He said the state continues to identify ineligible voters, saying the state Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has agreed to update information using a federal database that the elections division couldn’t access directly.
“We won’t be sending any new names to supervisors until the information we have is updated, because we always want to make sure we are using the best information available,” Cate wrote. “I don’t have a timetable on when the next list of names will be sent to supervisors, but there will be more names.”
The Scott Administration wants to make this entirely about voter integrity, as if the most important role for elections officials is to guard against a non-existent problem of voter fraud. In actuality, the statistics on who this impacts argue in favor of this being a voter suppression scheme, designed to make Democrats ineligible and give Republicans a better chance in November.
…the national progressive group CREDO has a petition out about this, calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to use the Voting Rights Act to shut down what they consider to be an illegal voting purge. Lawsuits are working through the courts on this as well.