Pafford and NAACP blast Scott for voter purgeby John Kennedy | January 13th, 2014
The latest attempt by the Gov. Rick Scott administration to remove ineligible voters from the rolls drew heat Monday from the Florida NAACP and incoming House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach.
In a state where Democrats still hold a significant voter edge over ruling Republicans, the governor up for re-election this fall has been focused on the voter rolls since 2012. Earlier attempts to purge voter rolls have been met with lawsuits and opposition from election supervisors, but the governor ordered Secretary of State Ken Detzner in August to renew the effort.
Detzner announced last month that the state was poised to move forward in coming weeks with a review based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAVE list — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements.
Advocates on Monday said they have concerns about the accuracy of the database, saying it may not accurately reflect the voting elibility of many recent immigrants. NAACP officials said the move also looks designed to remove black voters from the rolls.
“It was a conspiracy then (in 2012) and it’s a conspiracy now,” said Dale Landry, a vice president with the Florida NAACP, saying the state wasted more than $100,000 on its initial attempt.
“We are doing the same thing. People need to get angry,” he added.
Pafford said the effort by the Scott administration seems “cyclical, running parallel to election cycles.”
Scott ordered Detzner to renew scrutiny of state voter rolls after the U.S. Supreme Court last summer overturned portions of the Voting Rights Act, freeing Florida and most southern states of federal oversight of their election laws.
Election Supervisors said the SAVE system is more reliable. Detzner also has said that any final decisions about a voter’s eligibility will rest with county supervisors, with anyone targeted for possible removal having plenty of opportunities to appeal a ruling.
Detzner spokeswoman Brittany Lesser said, ““Secretary Detzner worked with the Legislature last year to make effective changes to elections laws to give Florida’s eligible voters more access including increasing voting hours and expanding early voting locations. These changes will increase voter opportunities because his priority is for 100 percent of voters to vote and that zero percent fraud is found in elections. Integrity of the voter rolls must be upheld to ensure that elections are accurate, efficient and fair.”