Thursday, May 31, 2012

NEW DATA: Elections Supervisors Throughout Florida Confirm U.S. Citizens Improperly Included In Voter Purge


When Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) administration distributed its controversial lists of possible non-citizen voters last month, state statute required the state’s 66 county supervisors of elections to send out letters requiring those voters to prove their eligibility to vote within 30 days — a window that will end in the next couple of weeks in many counties. But a ThinkProgress survey of several county supervisors in Florida reveals that the lists of presumed non-eligible voters is riddled with errors. In large and small jurisdictions across the state, supervisors have found that a large number of the voters on the list are indeed eligible voters.

Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall told ThinkProgress that she and the state’s 66 other county elections supervisors sent a “clear message” to the Scott administration at a Tampa conference two weeks ago. “One after another, [they] got up and talked about inaccuracies [in the state’s voter purge list of alleged non-citizen voters].”
In Miami-Dade, the count of voters whose citizenship status has been challenged by the Scott administration numbered in the hundreds. With time left to respond, nearly a quarter of those sent letters in have already proven their eligibility.
Several smaller counties also confirmed to ThinkProgress that voters have proven that their inclusion on the list was in error.
In Clay County, near Jacksonville, the elections supervisor received two names from the state. One proved citizenship; the other was purged from the rolls for not responding within 30 days. Charlotte County (two out of nine) and Bradford County (two out of nine) also reported significant percentage of errors on the state’s list.
Citrus County Supervisor of Elections Susan Gill (R), who serves a Tampa-area county with a population of just about 140,000, received just three names from the state that it deemed likely non-citizens. But already two of those have produced documentation to verify their citizenship and voter eligibility. One of the two was even born in New York State. The third voter, who has yet to respond to a registered letter, has never even voted.
Gill told ThinkProgress:
Everybody thinks we vote in a computer world. When you do any sort of data matches, you need several data points to make a good match. When the state first sent these 2,600 to us, some of the matches didn’t have enough information. We’re required by law to send a letter … and unfortunately they have to prove their citizenship. Some of them weren’t terribly happy. The state needs to find a better way to do the data matches.
Before the state sends out lists challenging the eligibility of voters — putting the onus on lawfully registered citizens to re-prove their eligibility — it has an obligation to be certain that that list is valid. Clearly, it did not do so here.
The purge of fully eligible voters from the voting rolls by Scott could be enough to tip the balance in Florida and, perhaps, the presidential election. In 2000, the final (disputed) margin was just 537 votes.

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