Anyone who follows this blog regularly may have already read Ken Quinnell's report on Florida Gov. Rick Scott's plan to purge 180,000 Hispanics from the voting rolls in Florida ahead of the 2012 presidential election. This Thursday evening, MSNBC's Ed Schultz thankfully decided to shine a national spotlight on the subject, hopefully before it's too late for those who have received notices from the state to do something about it.
Schultz highlighted this article from The Palm Beach Post News: Fla. Gov. started push to remove voters from rolls:
Florida's quest to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls was started at the direct urging of Gov. Rick Scott, the state's former top elections official said.
Ex-Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who resigned this year, told The Associated Press that Scott asked him whether or not non-U.S. citizens were registered and if those people were voting. Browning explained to the governor during a face-to-face meeting last year that people who register and falsely claim they are citizens can be charged with a crime.
"He says to me — well, people lie," Browning recalled this week. "Yes, people do. But we have always had to err on the side of the voter."
Browning said the conversation prompted state election officials to begin working to identify non-U.S. citizens. The state's initial list — compiled by comparing driver's licenses with voter registration data — showed that as many as 182,000 registered voters were eligible to be in the country but ineligible to vote.
But Browning said he decided against telling local election supervisors right away because he wanted to make sure the information was accurate in order to avoid a "firestorm of press" and criticism. Florida then spent months trying to get access to a federal database that tracks non-U.S. citizens in the country, but the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would not allow it.
"We were not confident enough about the information for this secretary to hang his hat on it," said Browning, who resigned after the Jan. 31 presidential preference primary.
Browning said media reports earlier this year that raised questions whether non-U.S. citizens were on the rolls required the state to keep pushing ahead with the effort.
In the last few weeks, the state sent a list to county election supervisors of more than 2,600 people who have been identified as non-U.S. citizens. Supervisors have responded warily to the list and have pointed out that it has inaccuracies.
And this article from the Tampa Bay Times: Hispanics, Democrats biggest groups on Florida's list of potential noncitizen voters, analysis shows:
Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted in a state hunt to remove thousands of noncitizens from Florida's voting rolls, a Miami Herald computer analysis of elections records has found.
Whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal, the analysis of a list of more than 2,600 potential noncitizens shows. The list was first compiled by the state and furnished to county election supervisors and then the Herald.
The numbers change by the day. The state's Division of Elections says it initially identified roughly 180,000 potential noncitizens by performing a search of a computer database that doesn't have the most-updated information.
About 58 percent of those identified as potential noncitizens are Hispanics, Florida's largest ethnic immigrant population. They make up just 13 percent of the overall 11.3 million active registered voters.
Those who have been flagged as potential noncitizens by the state are being contacted by county election supervisors. Many legitimate voters aren't happy with what they see as a needless hassle from a government using bad data. Read on...
Schultz followed up by bringing in Florida Congressman Ted Deutch who Think Progress spoke to about Florida Gov. Rick Scott's blatant attempt to become the state's next Katherine Harris: EXCLUSIVE: Florida Congressman Demands Gov. Rick Scott ‘Immediately Suspend’ Voter Purge:
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott was engaging in a “blatant attempt to supress voter turnout.” Scott is currently involved in a massive effort to purge up to 180,000 from the voting rolls. The list, purportedly of non-citizens, has proven unreliable. Earlier this week, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport.
Congressman Deutch said that his office has heard from several constituents who have recieved a voting ineligibility letter in error. In light of these errors, Deutch will soon send a letter to Scott demanding the purge be immediatly suspended. An excerpt:
It is out of grave concern that we write to ask for the immediate suspension of the Florida Division of Elections’ directive that county supervisors of elections purge up to 180,000 names from Florida’s voter rolls in advance of the November 2012 elections.
While we all agree that the right to vote should be reserved only to those who are eligible, any process that could strip Floridians of their voting rights should be conducted with the utmost caution and transparency, and certainly not within six months of a major federal election and within 90 days of the primary. 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. A rushed process will undermine both Florida and federal law requiring voter rolls to be maintained in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner.
The letter was circulated to the entire Florida Congressional delegation and Deutch expects several of his colleagues to sign on. Deutch noted that while Florida has “no history of mass voter fraud” it does have a history of “mass voter disenfranchisement” that proceeded the presidential election in 2000. Read on...
During his interview with Ed Schultz this Thursday, Deutch explained how important it was for the voters of Florida to be aware of what's happening and not to ignore the notices that are going out so they don't find themselves showing up at the polls later this year and told they're not eligible to vote once it's too late. Good on Ed Schultz for doing something to make sure those who may be disenfranchised are aware of what's going on so they can fight back against Scott's efforts.
Anyone who has friends or family in Florida needs to be spreading the word on this story now to try to prevent Republicans from being successful in stealing another presidential election. We can't afford a repeat of the Katherine Harris debacle.
The media continually talks about how close this election is going to be even though Mitt Romney's numbers with Hispanics, women, and just about every group other than old white men is in the tank and they appear to me to be setting the public up already with their arguments to justifying another stolen election if that's how things go down.
If Mitt Romney somehow wins this election, watch for the media to blame low numbers of students and Hispanics voting on low enthusiasm, rather than acknowledging Republicans did their best to make sure both groups did not have the ability to vote at all.
If the majority of our media cared about preserving our democracy in America, more of them would be doing what Schultz did here, and reporting on the massive attempts at voter disenfranchisement that are going on right now. Sadly the type of reporting we saw here from Ed Schultz is the rarity instead of the norm, and even Schultz isn't doing enough to point out all the other areas where this is happening as well.