After weeks of declining to make it public, Gov. Rick Scott's administration now says it will release a much larger list of more than 180,000 voters in Florida whose citizenship status is in question.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner said two weeks ago that he would seek an advisory opinion from Attorney General Pam Bondi as to whether the database was public record under Florida law -- a political hot potato if ever there was one. Detzner did not request the opinion, and his spokesman, Chris Cate, says: "Our conclusion is that the set of 180,000 names is a public record. We are in the process of redacting it now so that it can be provided to everyone who has made a public records request."
Elections experts say information contained in the state voter file is public record, but there are restrictions on what information can be copied.
Releasing the list could be an election-year nightmare for Scott's administration, which has acknowledged that the database is flawed. But Scott and Detzner have said that it is important for the state to comb its database to ensure that non-citizens are now allowed to "dilute" the votes of legitimate voters.
The state's release of a much smaller list of 2,700 individuals whose right to vote was in question set off a furor in May and has led to several lawsuits, and county supervisors of elections halted a purge of suspected non-citizen voters, calling the list unreliable. The state has sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, seeking to gain access to a federal citizenship database that would make it easier for the state to track voters' citizenship status.
The state released a list of 19 organizations and individuals who have requested the list of 180,000 voters. Most are Tallahassee-based reporters but the list also includes the Florida Democratic Party, American Civil Liberties Union, Fair Elections Network, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, the Advancement Project, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.