The voting process in Florida last year was a national disgrace, which was unfortunately the result of a deliberate scheme – state Republican policymakers closed the early-voting window, cracked down on voter-registration drives, and created painfully long voting lines, especially for minorities and the poor.
But that’s not all they did.
Last summer, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) launched an aggressive voter purge, which he claimed was necessary to remove non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls. As we discussed at the time, this too was a fiasco – Scott’s administration used faulty data and targeted eligible voters, all in the hopes of executing an unnecessary voter-suppression scheme five months before an election. (It got messier when nearly every county elections supervisor in the state said Scott’s scheme was illegal, and they refused to enforce it.)
In an unfortunate twist, Rick Scott apparently enjoys this disaster so much, he’s ready to do it again.
Gov. Rick Scott will soon launch a new hunt for noncitizens on Florida’s voter roll, a move that’s sure to provoke new cries of a voter “purge” as Scott ramps up his own re-election effort.
Similar searches a year ago were rife with errors, found few ineligible voters and led to lawsuits by advocacy groups that said it disproportionately targeted Hispanics, Haitians and other minority groups. Those searches were handled clumsily and angered county election supervisors, who lost confidence in the state’s list of names.
“It was sloppy, it was slapdash and it was inaccurate,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards. “They were sending us names of people to remove because they were born in Puerto Rico. It was disgusting.”
And what better way to than to celebrate this “disgusting” debacle than by doing it twice?
It’s worth noting that the governor’s 2012 voter purge had very little practical effect. The Scott administration originally targeted 182,000 voters, which eventually shrunk to 198 people before the state gave up as Election Day drew closer.
Whether this sequel, however, is also a dud, remains to be seen.
Election supervisors remain wary of a new removal effort, which the U.S. Supreme Court effectively authorized in June when it struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling nullified a federal lawsuit in Tampa that sought to stop new searches for noncitizen voters, and Scott quickly renewed his call for action.
“If there’s anybody that we think isn’t voting properly, from the standpoint that they didn’t have a right to vote, I think we need to do an investigation,” Scott said the day of the high court decision. Last fall, Scott joined the Republican Party in a fundraising appeal that accused Democrats of defending the right of noncitizens to vote.
Scott’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, is now creating a new list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking state voter data with a federal database managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Rachel will have more on this on tonight’s show.