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Florida has as many as 85,000 illegal voters registered in the state, election official testifies

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In the modern era, Florida has become the country’s premier presidential “battleground” state, where razor-thin victories by candidates can and have decided outcomes.

That’s the best reason why the state should have impeccable voter registration rolls. But, according to state officials, it doesn’t.

In fact, according to Politico, Florida’s Division of Election director Maria Matthews testified in federal court Monday that there could be as many as 85,000 illegal voters registered in the state, and worse, they’re not likely to all be removed in time for the 2020 presidential contest.

Matthews said state elections officials have flagged thousands of voters who’ve been convicted of felonies. Some may now be actually serving their prison sentences, while others have served time for murder or sex offenses — both of which make them ineligible to vote under Amendment 4, which ends Florida’s lifetime ban on voting for most who have been convicted of felonies.

The site noted:

A potential purge of voters in Florida, which has more than 13.7 million registered voters, could have out-sized impact, because many elections are won or lost on narrow margins. President Donald Trump won Florida in 2016 by fewer than 113,000 votes.

While Florida voters approved Amendment 4 in 2018, the state legislature passed a law in 2019 that requires former felons to pay all outstanding restitution, civil penalties, and fines that a judge has ordered before they can cast ballots. Civil rights groups have since filed suits challenging the law.

During her hours-long testimony, attorneys for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration had her explain how the state has been responding to the law, which includes procedures for how Florida is identifying ineligible voters. She also said that state officials are currently working to clear a backlog of voters who have been identified as possibly being ineligible.

But the process is painstakingly slow. Matthews testified that Florida election officials only have the ability to examine 57 cases per day, which means it could take as long as four years to review an estimated 85,000 files of people identified as having been convicted of a felony that makes them ineligible to get voting rights back.

As Florida continues to winnow its voter registration rolls to ensure compliance with the law, other states have been facing lawsuits — primarily from legal watchdog group Judicial Watch — to clean up theirs as well.

The effort has been years in the making. In 2014, Judicial Watch officials put two states and the nation’s capital on notice that they planned to file federal lawsuits requiring them to clean up registration rolls after the group found that they had more voters registered than residents of their states and city.

In subsequent suits, Judicial Watch has claimed victory as well. In January 2019, the group announced it had successfully forced the deep blue state of California to remove an estimated 1.5 million inactive and otherwise ineligible voters from registration rolls, in compliance with federal law.

In a January press release, Judicial Watch noted there are “millions” of “extra registrants” on voter rolls all over the country.

“Dirty voting rolls can mean dirty elections and Judicial Watch will insist, in court if necessary, that states follow federal law to clean up their voting rolls,” Fitton said at the time. “Previous Judicial Watch lawsuits have already led to major cleanups in California, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio – but more needs to be done. It is common sense that voters who die or move away be removed from the voting rolls.”

Judicial Watch’s efforts have drawn a lot of attention, including from actor James Woods, who tweeted last month that the group’s president, Tom Fitton, deserves recognition for what he’s doing to “fight…corruption in our Republic” while chastising the Justice Department for not doing more to help curtail illegal voting.

Jon Dougherty

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