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Florida officials try different tack to get access to federal database for voter purge

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by Dara Kam

State officials are trying another route to get access to the Department of Homeland Security database they believe will clear up controversy over a troubled non-citizen voter purge.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Julie Jones today asked Department of Homeland Security officials to expand the agreement her agency has with them regarding the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or “SAVE,” database.

DHSMV already has permission to use the database to check the citizenship status of Floridians applying for driver licenses or government identification cards.

Last month, state highway officials and Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that DHSMV would be using the SAVE database to do a more complete vetting of 182,000 potential non-citizens who applied for driver licenses or state IDs and are also registered to vote.

But shortly after that, lawyers at DHSMV decided an agreement they had with Homeland Security prevented that.

So Jones today asked for a change in the memorandum of agreement with the feds so she could keep her records more current. Jones made no mention of the controversial non-citizen purge process in her letter to John Roessler, chief of the SAVE program.

“Most Florida driver licenses and identification cards issued to lawful, permanent residents are valid for eight years with the only exception being residents aged eighty or older,” Jones wrote. “This department is interested in keeping our records as up-to-date as possible between regular renewal cycles. Therefore, we are interested in utilizing SAVE in order to update our records between renewal cycles and we believe a modification of the MOA is required.”

DHSMV and state elections officials have flagged more than 182,000 potential non-citizens who are also registered to vote by matching driver license records with the Florida Voter Registration System.

The non-citizen purge has created a national uproar, pitted Gov. Rick Scott’s administration against the Justice Department, set off a stand-off of sorts between state and local elections officials and exploded into a partisan finger-pointing match.

And today’s letter is the latest twist in Scott’s SAVE skirmish with Homeland Security.Yesterday, the governor’s administration accused DHS officials of breaking the law by ignoring requests to use the database for nine months. Detzner and Scott have repeatedly blamed the problematic purge process on President Obama’s administration. They contend that being able to vet the names of potential non-citizens through SAVE would give elections officials – who refuse to participate in the scrub until the issue is sorted out – more confidence in the purge list, which flagged a decorated World War II veteran and citizens who were naturalized after they applied for their driver license.

UPDATE: Senator’s attempt to rescue driver license handbook contractor goes nowhere, again

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Sen. Carey Baker’s effort to rescue the vendor who has printed the state’s driver license handbook for five years went nowhere today and seems to be destined for the cutting room floor.

Baker had originally proposed a bill (SB 2342) that would keep Ken Underwood in the running for a contract with the Department of Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety which he now prints for free in exchange for advertising his National Safety Commission driver’s ed schools.

Baker, R-Eustis, rewrote the bill to appease opponents, including Underwood’s competitors, but he asked the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee to skip a vote on it today, as he did last week, because it was clear the revisions didn’t pass critics’ muster.

DHSMV chief Julie Jones, who canceled the contract after the end of the year, told the committee that “We need to overcome the perception of an endorsement of one company.”

(more…)

Marion Hammer locked and loaded over drivers license handbook

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

NRA lobbyist and political heavyweight Marion Hammer’s targeting a bill that ostensibly has nothing to do with weapons except that the bill’s Senate sponsor Carey Baker owns a gun shop.

A controversy over the state’s drivers license handbook has the former president of the National Rifle Association loaded for bear.

Baker, R-Eustis, is backing a bill (SB 2342) that would force the state to extend a contentious agreement with Ken Underwood, the Ponte Vedra Beach owner of a driver ed school, in which he prints the drivers license handbook for the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for free.

In return, Underwood gets to advertise his businesses in the handbook.

(more…)

FWC law enforcement chief Julie Jones new DHSMV head

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 by Dara Kam

The Florida Cabinet just appointed Julie Jones to head the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Until now, Jones served as the head of law enforcement for the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and was instrumental in search and rescue operations following the devastating hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004 and 2005. She also oversaw rescue operations in Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Jones pledged to continue an emphasis on customer service.

“This is a huge opportunity and the trust that you place in me,” she said. “This is a huge agency that I think touches every single citizen in the state of Florida. It’s a huge responsibility.”

Jones replaces Elektra Bustle.
I intend to take your…

good customer service…
and continue the good things this agency’s done thus far.

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