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.
“I’m upset, because if someone is an American citizen, it is his right to vote. How can they be asking for this?” said Juan Artabe, a 41-year-old Democrat from Cuba who said he became a citizen in 2009.
“Very poor job by the elections department,” Artabe said. He said he was contacted last week by the Miami-Dade elections office and sent in a copy of his citizenship papers so he wasn’t struck from the voter rolls.
About two-thirds of the potential noncitizen matches so far have been in Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county with the biggest immigrant population.
The election-year effort, led by a Republican-appointed secretary of state, has increasingly become a focus of concern among Democrats, liberals and civil-liberties groups. They worry that the state could wind up removing lawful voters from the rolls.
But the state’s elections officials say they’re trying to make sure noncitizens — who aren’t supposed to vote in Florida elections — aren’t unlawfully casting ballots. Voter fraud is a third-degree felony.