TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Florida officials continue to investigate the citizenship of Florida registered voters and now the number of potentially ineligible voters in the state is growing.
A spokesman for the Division of Elections said Friday that state elections officials plan to check about 180,000 people for possible removal from the voter rolls.
Elections spokesman Chris Cate said, when matching voter rolls against newly available citizenship data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, officials found that number of possible matches, and began further investigating each one to see if they were likely to be wrongly registered to vote.
CBS4 News was the first to report on the new crackdown earlier this week.
It was learned that 2,000 of those potential non-citizen voters are registered in Miami-Dade County and at least one person on the list has had the opportunity to vote for the past 40 years.
Miami-Dade is not alone. Broward is looking at 260 registered voters and Monroe is investigating four.
Local supervisors of elections will notify each voter if they were on the list of people suspected of being illegally registered.
“Everyone of those individuals would be contacted by supervisors,” Cate said.
Each person has 30 days to respond to the County’s inquiry asking them to prove their citizenship.
Earlier this week it wasn’t clear how many more names might eventually be checked.
On Friday, Cate said the larger number was the total identified so far, but that it will take some time to further cull through that list to determine which names are most likely accurately identified as non-citizens.
“We’re still in the early stages of combing through that 180,000,” Cate said. “We have to respect every voter,” and err on the side of not purging them from the rolls if they’re legitimately registered, he said. Some additional portion of the full list of possible non-citizens will eventually be identified as likely to be wrongly registered and sent to local supervisors for possible purging. Whether all of them will be vetted before this year’s election remains unclear.
“There’s not a timeline, we are moving as promptly as we can while still being thorough,” Cate said.
Some Democrats and voting rights groups have criticized the new effort to find suspected ineligible voters. An ACLU official said this week that state officials were looking for cover while trying to disenfranchise voters.
Cate said the idea for cross-checking voter rolls with new citizenship data from the highway safety agency came from the motor vehicle department and the elections officials, not the governor’s office or the Legislature.
“Last year they (Highway Safety) started reaching out to agencies to see what info Highway Safety had that could benefit other agencies,” Cate said. “We recognized they had this non-citizen information and we jumped at the chance to see if we could improve our rolls.”
“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”