Dems blister Scott on first day of huddles with elections chiefsby John Kennedy | October 3rd, 2013
Florida Democrats marked the opening of discussions between state officials and county elections supervisors Thursday by condemning Gov. Rick Scott and fellow Republicans for what they call their latest attempt at voter suppression.
“They are going to use every tool at their disposal,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, who is chair of the Democratic National Committee. “It’s another example of how Rick Scott and his Republican friends can’t win elections on their merits.”
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner was scheduled to meet Thursday in Panama City with elections supervisors from the Panhandle as part of the agency’s revived effort to remove noncitizens and other ineligible voters from the state’s elections rolls. The state has called the review, Project Integrity.
Detzner has scheduled roundtables with county supervisors today through Oct. 9 to draw input on how to proceed. The Oct. 9 hearing is expected to draw supervisors from South Florida and is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Broward County Governmental Center.
Democrats, though, say the administration’s pre-election year push unfairly targets minority voters who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. Wasserman Schultz pointed out that President Obama carried 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 95 percent of the black vote in Florida in last year’s election.
Minority and voting rights groups earlier this month called on Scott to drop the review of voter rolls, saying the database the state intends to use is flawed.
Scott plans to use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAVE list — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements — list to conduct the review. Several county election supervisors already have raised concerns about the accuracy of the database, saying it may not accurately reflect the voting eligibility of many recent immigrants.
Relying on another database, Scott last year attempted to remove noncitizens, initially disclosing a pool of 182,000 names of potential noncitizens later reduced to a list of 2,600. Those named were sent to election supervisors, who found many were in fact eligible voters.
In the end, the list of possible noncitizen voters shrank to 198. Elections officials found that about 40 had voted illegally.
A Public Policy Polling survey released this week showed Scott drawing his lowest approval ratings in Florida from Hispanic and black voters. The poll showed expected Florida Democratic candidate Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor, leading Scott by a 12-point margin if they faced off next year.
Crist draws overwhelming support from black voters and tops Scott by 12 percentage points among Hispanic voters, the poll showed.