Gov. Scott, Election Officials Spar Over Ineligible Voters
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA) – Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s 67 election supervisors are at odds over removing ineligible voters from registration rolls.
After winning access to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database of those ineligible voters, Gov. Scott doesn’t understand why the election supervisors don’t want to get back to removing those voters from the rolls.
“You know, it’s very reliable data, so I can’t imagine they’re not going to go forward and make sure,” Scott told CNN on Monday. “‘Cause I don’t know anybody – any supervisor of elections or anybody in our state – that thinks non-U.S. citizens ought to be voting in our races.”
Many of the election supervisors resisted the voter database purge, so it is no surprise that supervisors are hesitant to trust the new lists. Supervisors like Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall insist on reviewing the lists first – especially given elections are less than four months away.
“My worst nightmare is we get close to a presidential election, and someone challenges maybe 100,000 possible non-citizens at the polls on Election Day,” said McFall. “If that happens, we won’t get our results for weeks.”
The state appeared to win a months-long struggle with the federal government Saturday over use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE, database. The state maintained that it had the right to use the list, while DHS said Florida hadn’t provided all the information needed for that. The state eventually sued the feds for access to the database, and Florida officials said in recent weeks they’ve supplied the information the feds wanted.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner quickly sent a letter Saturday to elections supervisors, suggesting that the SAVE material would allow the purge to resume.
In his letter, Detzner said the state and the federal government plan to sign an agreement allowing the state to use the database “very soon.” But as McFall noted, the letter also acknowledged that lists previously provided for the purge – by the Florida Department of State and Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles – “should be considered obsolete.”
“The letter admits that the existing file they gave us is now outdated and should not be used,” McFall said. “So what happens when this next list comes out?”
So what’s the next step?
Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections and the supervisor in Martin County, said the association’s executive committee is meeting Tuesday to map out its strategy. And in speaking to Detzner, Davis said, she came away with the understanding that the data might not be available until after the statewide primary on Aug. 14.
“It’s going to take time to finalize the process,” she said.
Voting rights groups are also worried about the timing.
They say purging the rolls so soon before a presidential election could disenfranchise voters – to the advantage of GOP candidates.
“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”