Florida has gone “birther” on thousands of its own voters, singling them out with requirements to provide proof of citizenship in order to cast a ballot this election year. But the process is turning out to be a flawed move to expel ineligible voters from the state’s rolls after many of the residents were individually targeted inaccurately as “non-citizens.”
Six Florida Congressional lawmakers – Reps. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Corrine Brown, Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Kathy Castor, all Democrats – lashed out against Republican Gov. Rick Scott for leading the voter purge, saying the move “fails to meet the basic standards of accountability”:
Providing a list of names with questionable validity - created with absolutely no oversight - to county supervisors and asking that they purge their rolls will create chaotic results and further undermine Floridians’ confidence in the integrity of our elections.
Over two weeks ago, officials within Florida’s Division of Elections opted to cross-reference a list of 182,000 suspected non-citizens with a federal database in order to combat voter fraud. Initially, they had requested access to The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration database for their pet project, but were subsequently shot down for legal issues in doing so. The division instead turned toward a department known for its up-to-date efficiency and expediency in such voter registration matters - the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
And according to data made available to ThinkProgress, potentially hundreds of citizens within Miami-Dade county alone were alerted that they would no longer be eligible to vote. “In short, an excess of 20 percent of the voters flagged as “non-citizens” in Miami-Dade are, in fact, citizens. And the actual number may be much higher,” ThinkProgress concluded.
Of those flagged as non-citizens, the Miami Herald found that Democrats and Hispanic voters were disproportionately singled out in the raid, leaving white, Republican voters largely unscathed. ”About 58 percent of those identified as potential non-citizens are Hispanics, Florida’s largest ethnic immigrant population. They make up just 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters,” their computer analysis found.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry responded to the backlash saying that purging voter rolls is no different from a traffic stop. He went on to invoke the outcome of their state’s 2000 presidential elections as a foreboding warning to the hazards of fraud. Curry said in an statement:
“In 2000, Florida’s presidential outcome was determined by 537 votes. The idea that thousands of illegally registered voters could be in our electoral system is chilling.”
You know what else is chilling? The fact that people would spend time, money and effort on this when there are more reported cases of shark attacks in Florida than there are instances of voter fraud.
Postscript: Both “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” examined this issue last night. See both segments below the jump.