Rick Scott Voter Purge Tour Leaves Questions Unanswered, Says Voting Rights Coalition
Governor Evil's Rick Scott's secretary of state, Ken Detzner, hit Ft. Lauderdale yesterday on the last stop of his "Project Integrity" road show, which the state describes as an effort to "[protect] the voting rights of eligible voters from those who may cast an illegal vote."
Voter fraud is common as, oh, hen's teeth, and the state completely bungled a similar voter purge last year ("my bad," Scott finally admitted) so it's no surprise Detzner's effort to, as he put it, "collaborate" with local Supervisors of Elections fell flat.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher came away from the meeting and tore Detzner a new one (metaphorically, to be sure), telling the Sun-Sentinel's Anthony Man, "I don't think I got my questions answered today in any way whatsoever. I can't find any kind of real information other than trust me, and we did that last year." (According to Man, Bucher asked so many questions Detzner finally cut her off.)
The nub of the new purge is to create a list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking the Department of Homeland Security Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database with the state's voter data. What could go wrong?
Plenty, according to a voter's rights coalition including the ACLU of Florida, minority and labor groups. In a statement yesterday, they asked seven questions:
1. The Department of Homeland Security's Memorandum of Agreement with Florida specifically states that the SAVE database cannot accurately verify whether or not individuals are citizens. Why are we using such a database, and how do you reconcile the purge program when this data is explicitly non-definitive?
2. Why can't a citizen who is being questioned about their immigration status simply fill out an affidavit of citizenship and vote? Everybody else who fills out voter registration forms makes this same pledge, under the penalty of perjury.
3. What is the procedure for people who are wrongly identified as noncitizens to quickly correct their names in the system and vote by a regular ballot, in a way that does not create hardship for the voter? (If a naturalization certificate is lost, a replacement copy costs $345, and the wait time for processing can take up to five months.)
4. How many cases of noncitizen voting have actually occurred in Florida over the past five years? Where is the Department of State's basic research on the extent of the so-called "problem" of noncitizen voting, and why hasn't this information been shared before launching this statewide initiative?
5. How many of the 67 Supervisors of Elections have indicated a problem with noncitizen voting, or asked for the Department's assistance through this purge program?
6. Who asked the Department to initiate the alleged noncitizen voter list maintenance last year? And this year?
7. The SAVE database is a fee-based system, which would make it more expensive than the 2012 purge, which cost an estimated $100,000. What is the estimated taxpayer cost of this year's program?
Detzner's press office told New Times the secretary has answered the coalition's questions in the "Project Integrity Q&A" here. Far as I can tell, questions 1 and 3 are answered sorta/kinda/partially but for the rest, it simply isn't so.
Bottom line, we agree with the voter's rights coalition: "this purge is a solution in search of a problem." And we'll go further: the purge is a politically driven way to disenfranchise low income and minority voters and boost GOP chances at the polls.
Fortunately, it is county Supervisors of Elections who get the last word on the purge, and we trust them (most of them) to show more integrity than Rick Scott.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.