I Can Still Vote In Florida (?)

16 Jun

Purge the Vote (Cagle) I admit I had to check my Florida-issued driver’s license today, because I – a lifelong Democrat who’s never missed an election – was worried I might be disenfranchised by formerly deceased Governor Peter Garrett Rick Scott. I’m good until 2018 by which time I hope to be alive in Florida. Last week I asked my mother, who lives in a suburb outside Sanford, about it, too. According to ProPublica, my fears aren’t warranted, but that doesn’t mean Scott isn’t in trouble.

Florida has compiled a list of potential non-citizen registered voters using data provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. It has sent the list to county election supervisors and requested that the supervisors contact flagged voters to verify their citizenship.

In its suit, the Justice department has claimed the data is “outdated and inaccurate” and may mistakenly identify registered voters who are U.S. citizens, depriving them of their right to vote. In response, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has reiterated his support for the initiative, which he says is necessary to preserve the integrity of voting rolls.


Florida is not the first state to flag the issue of non-citizen voting: both New Mexico and Colorado have taken similar steps. But Florida’s efforts-directing county officials to purge suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls-are getting extra attention because it’s happening so close to a presidential election.

Florida officials say they’re ordering the purge because of concerns about voter fraud. Such voting fraud appears to be quite rare, perhaps because the penalties are strict-it’s a felony in Florida and many other states-and the payoff relatively modest (a single vote). A 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice found very few cases. The report suggested that what was thought to be fraud was more often a result of registration error or other mistakes.


Some critics of the voter-purge initiative say this is just one of a series of steps Gov. Rick Scott has taken to curtail voting rights. Within the last year, Florida has shortened the time frame for early voting, imposed tougher restrictions on voter registration drives and made it more difficult for released felons to regain the right to vote. One Florida senator has compared the latest initiative with the state’s improper removal of 1,100 eligible felons from voter rolls prior to the 2000 election.

The more stringent voting requirements are part of a national trend. Since early 2011, 41 states have introduced bills outlining more restrictive measures on voting procedures.

So, no conspiracy here. But, what could be more worrying, this looks like misadministration, at a time when Americans are concerned about government reform. I would prefer Scott would try to fix this problem, not defund or abolish it from public view.

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