Scott administration says 86 non-citizens removed from voting rolls since purge startedby Dara Kam | June 8th, 2012
Eighty-six voters who are likely not U.S. citizens – including one Palm Beach County woman – have been removed from the rolls as a result of Gov. Rick Scott’s controversial non-citizen purge now being challenged in federal court, according to Department of State records released today.
And more than half of those appear to have voted, the records showed.
The 86 voters make up about one-third of one percent of the 2,600 voters flagged as potentially ineligible by Scott’s administration.
But it’s unclear how many of those voters removed since the problematic purge started in April were actually included in the list distributed to elections supervisors by Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
Greenacres voter Anabilil Gomez was removed from the voting rolls on May 3, the records show. But she was not on Detzner’s list. And Detzner’s spokesman Chris Cate said it is unknown yet whether Gomez or others were on the master list of 182,000 from which the April batch was culled and which officials have not yet released to the public.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said Gomez likely came to the elections office and asked to be removed. Bucher never sent letters to the suspect voters notifying them that they needed to prove their citizenship as Detzner’s office ordered her and the 66 other county supervisors to do.
“It looks like she came to the counter and told us because we sent her a voter card in December 11. The only way we would have that information is if she was telling us because we never sent the letters out,” Bucher said, adding that others came to her office “trying to give us copies of their documents” to ensure they would not be removed from the rolls.
It is a felony for ineligible people, including non-citizens, to register or vote in Florida.
Bucher said her office sent Gomez a voter registration card in December but the woman had not voted in any election.
But state department officials said 46 others on the list of 86 have voted, including about a dozen whose voting records pre-date 2006. More than half of the voters on the list were registered in Lee county.
Scott’s staff trumpeted the revelation as a vindication of the purge process, blasted by Democrats and civil rights organizations.
“As you already know, but I insist you point out, not a single US citizen has been removed from the voter rolls as a result of the state’s inquiry. But we now know with absolute certainty that a growing number of non-US citizens aren’t just illegally registered to vote here in Florida, they are also casting ballots and influencing election outcomes,” Scott spokesman Brian Burgess wrote in an e-mail. “The State of Florida has a legal obligation to do what it can to protect the votes of its citizens, and that includes preventing never-eligible, non-citizens from casting ballots and diluting the votes of eligible, law-abiding voters.”
Detzner gave elections supervisors a list of 2,600 potential non-citizens generated by matching the state voter registration database with driver license records and culled from a master list of more than 182,000, in mid-April.
Detzner asked the local officials to verify that the potential non-citizens were ineligible to vote and to send them letters giving them 30 days to prove they are citizens. The list turned out to be riddled with errors, with many of those flagged showing they have become naturalized citizens since their last encounter with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Both Republican and Democratic supervisors blasted the list, saying it was based on incomplete and out-dated information. And the Justice Department told Detzner the purge appeared to violate two federal elections laws. Last week, the local elections officials – the only ones who can remove voters from the rolls – said they were dropping the scrub until the issue was sorted out by Scott and the feds, or by a court. Today, the ACLU and others filed a federal lawsuit in Tampa against Detzner asking a judge to stop the purge until the Justice Department weighs in.
The purge set off a partisan firestorm and an outcry from national civil rights groups who accused Scott of trying to keep voters from casting their ballots in the November elections in Florida, a crucial swing state considered a must-win by both parties.