Republicans Secretly Continue To Purge Voters In Florida

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 02:27 pm

When Republicans say they are doing one thing, always pay attention to the action behind the curtain.
There are two recent examples. Ohio’s Secretary of State officially followed a court order to reinstate Ohio’s previous early voting rules. Meanwhile, behind the curtain he filed an appeal of the lower court decision to reinstate his early edict that would restrict early voting having a disproportionately adverse effect on African Americans, people who work for a living and senior citizens.
In Florida, while agreeing to a settlement with voter advocacy groups that had sued over the voter purge, behind the curtain Florida’s Republicans continues with the purge.
Under the terms of the agreement, Secretary of State Ken Detzner agreed that local election supervisors would send letters to most of the people who were told earlier this year that they might be ineligible to vote, to inform them they are still registered. Also, any voter whose alleged non-citizenship status was not confirmed by the database Florida is using now will be placed back on the rolls.
But as Cortez Journal reports:

Additionally the voter purge is far from over.
Chris Cate, a spokesman for Detzner, said Florida will create yet another non-U.S. citizen list by once again comparing driver’s license information with voter rolls and then running the names through a federal immigration database. A similar effort last year yielded 180,000 names but state officials later called that list obsolete and said they wouldn’t use it.

Think Progress reports on the new procedure, as outlined by Vote Purger in chief, Rick Scott.

The presentation outlines a procedure to “update” their flawed purge list by cross-checking it against a federal Department of Homeland Security database (SAVE). This task is apparently being done by hand and has not been completed since there is “no established automated process yet.

According to Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall, who is a Republican, there won’t be sufficient time to go through this procedure in the 55 days remaining before the election.

We’re 55 days in front of a huge election. It just doesn’t help us whatsoever. I went through the SAVE training today—it’s the most convoluted thing you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s awful.
Even if they got the list of names to us tomorrow, there wouldn’t be time. That person has due process. Anyone has due process in the state and country.

According to a DHS representative’s observations earlier this year, even if there was time to go through this convoluted process, SAVE only provides information on green card holders and Naturalized U.S. Citizens.
In other words, this list does not definitively establish whether someone is a U.S. Citizen. To address this problem, Florida’s election officials will send letters asking people to “re-affirm registration status” and “remind them of eligibility requirements and that it is illegal to be registered and vote when someone is not a U.S. citizen.”
The reason is obvious. Detzner’s first voter purge didn’t purge enough voters to satisfy Detzner, Scott and probably Mitt Romney’s desperate campaign.
As Ocala reports, despite these and other flaws, Detzner still defends the purge because

We want every Florida voter to be confident that their vote is protected and not hurt in any way by the illegal activity of others. We know that every vote counts, especially here in Florida where only 537 votes decided the presidential election in 2000.

The problem with Detzner’s explanation is that every Florida voters’ vote will not be protected and will not count. By his department’s admission, manual searches in the SAVE database are too time consuming to be completed before the election. SAVE does not confirm the citizenship status of people who are natural U.S. citizens. Moreover, Florida must have the DHS’ identifying number to access the Federal database. Of the 2.623 names Detzner’s department initially came up with; they could only double check 1700.

There are still 3 pending suits challenging the purge. Hopefully, the courts will see the purge for what it is: an attack on the very American value of democracy and an attack on the most basic right in our constitution: the right to vote.
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