Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
LAUDERHILL (CBSMiami) – Despite protests from voting rights groups, Democrats, and several Supervisors of Elections; Florida’s voter roll purge isn’t slowing down. That’s left local elections departments with the tall task of trying to make sense of a list of “non-citizen” voters compiled by the state.
Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has asked the state to provide her with more accurate data.
Snipes said 259 citizens in Broward County were flagged, but so far only six or seven voters have come forward to give proof they are citizens. She’s also now calling on the community to help the county to help make sure the rolls are accurate.
Snipes said there were a variety of reasons people could have been included on the list.
“Maybe they’ve moved. Some of them could have been deceased and we’ve not gotten notification of it. So it’s just a variety of reasons,” Snipes said.
Snipes isn’t the only elections supervisor who is pushing back on the voter roll purge.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said her office isn’t even sending out letters to the 115 voters the state flagged because the information the list was built on was “not credible.”
“We could prove that the information was not credible before sending letters and even the Division of Elections has admitted substantial flaws,” Bucher exclusively told the left-leaning website Think Progress. “I did not feel we had credible information and told them I wouldn’t send them until they could give me a better list. This thing is not working out so well.”
The voter roll purge is the latest move by Governor Scott and the Republican legislature to impact the voter turnout. Earlier this year, the legislature passed and Scott signed election reforms that curtailed third party voter registration efforts and reduced the number of early voting days. Both measures have been challenged in court by the Justice Department.
The Justice Department told a court in March, Florida hasn’t demonstrated that “the proposed voting changes neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or membership.”
The original list the state worked with this year had approximately 182,000 voters to be removed from voter rolls, but was later reduced to 2,700. However, the state used an outdated drivers license database to compile the list of “non-citizens,” according to the New York Times.
As the voter purge has continued, countless examples of naturalized and other legal citizens inclusion on the list have come to light, including a World War II veteran CBS4 profiled. Snipes said the WWII veteran case was caused by two birthdays being listed for the veteran.
Critics have charged the purge unfairly targets Hispanics, African-Americans, and Democrats in the state.
Historically, if voter turnout is high, as it was in 2008, Democrats have a much higher likelihood of winning. Conversely, if voter turnout is lower, Republicans typically perform much better in elections.
Tuesday, a group of Democratic Congressional Representatives and Democrat Bill Nelson all requested Scott to stop the voter purge in it’s tracks.
Scott and Republicans in the legislature said the measures were needed to combat voter fraud in the state. Florida Republican Chair Lenny Curry said Nelson “defends” the right of dead, non-citizen voters, according to the Herald.
If the fighting over purged voter rolls sounds familiar to Floridians, it’s because a similar purged happened before the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000.
During that purge, thousands of eligible voters were erroneously listed as felons, which prevented them from voting, according to National Public Radio. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris headed up the 2000 voter roll purge.
According to the state Division of Elections, the state will continue to purge the rolls ahead of the 2012 general election despite the controversy.
Florida isn’t the only state trying to purge the voter rolls ahead of the November election. Colorado and New Mexico are trying to purge voter rolls of non-citizens.
As the election between President Obama and Mitt Romney is expected to be razor thin, any of the actions by these states could swing this election to one candidate or the other.