Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant said it was pure politics that was driving Gov. Rick Scott to push for a second purge of non-citizens from voter rolls.
“What I say to Rick Scott is if your victory depends on a voter purge, then you’re not fit to govern and you don’t deserve a second term,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“This is all about suppressing minority voters and shows how out of touch he is,” Tant said.
The comments were made during a Thursday morning conference call with reporters about two hours before Scott’s Secretary of State, Ken Detzner, held the first of five public meetings with supervisors of elections and voters from around the state to discuss how the next purge will be conducted.
A first attempt to remove non-citizens last year was impaired by faulty data that disqualified some eligible voters while identifying few actual non-citizens. The state’s list of suspected non-citizens shrank from 182,000 to 198 before supervisors suspended their searches, blaming shoddy data.
Voters misidentified in that initial purge were sent letters informing them: "You are not a United States citizen, however you are registered to vote."
On Wednesday, Detzner took the blame for the initial purge, saying the state used flawed data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The second purge, he said, will rely on more accurate data, this time from SAVE, which is short for Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. Although maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, SAVE is a database used by numerous other agencies to determine the immigration status of benefit applicants so only those eligible receive them.
He also said each of the state’s 67 supervisor of elections will oversee the process of notifying any voters identified as non-citizens and giving them time to prove they are eligible.
Even if the instances of non-citizens are rare, Detzner said it’s imperative, and his job, to conduct a purge to ensure that it doesn’t ever happen.
“I don’t measure things to see if they are a big problem or a small problem,” Detzner said. “I’m just required by law to do this. The Legislature and the governor told me that non-citizens are ineligible. I have to make sure, to the best of my ability, that they don’t vote.”
But Wasserman Schultz said this was a solution in search of a problem.
“There is not a problem of non-citizens voting,” she told reporters. “This is not something that resources of the state should be dedicated to. It’s designed to intimidate real citizens from voting.”
But Scott is not alone among Florida governors in pushing for a purge. The presumptive Democratic challenger to Scott, Charlie Crist, pushed a “no match, no vote” purge aimed at removing voters from rolls if their driver’s licenses or social security numbers didn’t match the state’s data when he was still a Republican. In 2008, that purge was heavily criticized by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.
When reminded about Crist and asked if there is ever a need to remove non-citizens, Wasserman Schultz said she supports a scan of the rolls for non-citizens if there was an adequate way to do so. But she said Scott’s previous attempt did more harm than good and proved the real intent behind his second attempt.
“There’s no evidence that Rick Scott’s administration is using non-flawed data,” Wasserman Schultz said.
Tant said Detzner’s road show was an attempt to disguise the purge as a sincere outreach effort.
“This is a waste of taxpayer dollars to send Ken Detzner out to do this,” Tant said. “This is complete and total voter suppression.”