While Florida Gov. Rick Scott prepares his own 2014 re-election bid, he is also initiating a campaign of a different sort — another effort to purge the voter rolls of all non-citizens.
The state’s last effort was hurriedly done with little advance planning, and resulted in several lawsuits by several advocacy groups and even angered county elections supervisors, according to The Miami Herald.
Thus was due, in large part, to a running battle between Gov. Scott and the Department of Homeland Security over access to its law enforcement database.
“We’ve already confirmed that non-citizens have voted in past elections here in Florida,” Scott said in the statement at that time, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
After many months of legal wrangling, DHS finally agreed to hand over its list — a mere three and a half months prior to the 2012 election, giving state officials little time to cull the roll of illegal voters.
The Herald noted that as a result of that experience:
Election supervisors remain wary of a new removal effort, which the U.S. Supreme Court effectively authorized in June when it struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling nullified a federal lawsuit in Tampa that sought to stop new searches for noncitizen voters, and Scott quickly renewed his call for action.
Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner has the luxury of being able to take it slower this time, and to be more methodical, well in advance of the 2014 midterms. He’s cross-checking the state’s voter rolls with lists provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
“I’ve been told that they will go slow,” Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah said. “I’m completely confident that the process will work.” Garcia is chairman of the Florida Hispanic Legislative Caucus. Hispanics and Haitians were particularly targeted in the last purge.
Maria Matthews, Detzner’s director of elections, sent a letter to election supervisors to put them at ease. Her letter pledged that on this go-round, the state is putting in place “responsible measures that ensure due process and the integrity of Florida’s voter rolls.” Matthews also promised that the county election supervisors would be included “in the planning and decision-making.”
Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley echoed the need for voter integrity in the following tweet:
@SayfieReview No greater voter advocate than an SOE! Info from FL SOS must be credible & reliable! Integrity of voter rolls is paramount!
— Brian Corley (@brianecorley) July 24, 2013
And it’s this need for integrity that prompted Corley to weigh in on online voting, an idea that’s been bandied around the country.
— Brian Corley (@brianecorley) July 25, 2013
Corley’s counterpart on the other side of the state apparently sees no problem.
“Ineligible voters will be removed when their ineligibility is substantiated by credible and reliable data,” Miami-Dade election supervisor Penelope Townsley told the Miami Herald.
What a difference a little extra time makes.
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