Florida's voter purge effort facing long odds

4:38 PM, Jul 17, 2012   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - Florida is moving to resume its purge of noncitizens from voter rolls but supervisors of elections are skeptical the effort can be pulled off before Election Day in November.

The Florida Department of State has received the OK from the federal government to access a Homeland Security citizenship database that may help identify noncitizens illegally registered to vote in Florida.

Once the state examines the database, it plans to compile a list of names to eliminate from voter rolls. But only local elections supervisors have the authority to remove people from those rolls and that process can be time consuming.

Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho is skeptical any voters can be removed in time for the November election.

"One of the things that this discussion points out to me is how terribly disconnected the Division of Elections is from the process of elections in the state of Florida. The state's own process, even if we had a list of accurate names, would require a minimum of 60 days to remove anybody. This is a process that really may not even be accomplished before the November election if it is even begun."

Florida is still waiting for final approval from the Obama administration to access the citizenship database. Then the Division of Elections plans to cull the list for noncitizens and send the names to supervisors of elections.

Then supervisors would begin a two-step process to identify potential illegal voters: first send letters to suspected noncitizens and give them 30 days to respond. If that doesn't work, then their names would be published in the newspaper and they would have another 30 days to respond.

But Sancho thinks it's a moot issue until the state actually delivers a list of names.

"So from our point of view currently there is no effort to remove voters on a systematic basis. We know the state is interested in doing such but beyond the hype of the situation, when we see an actual list then we can begin looking at what the work is."

Florida's primary election is August 14 and the general election is November 6.

Dave Heller

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