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Legal voters may -- or may not -- have been purged from rolls in noncitizen hunt

Gov. Rick Scott often says that no actual citizens have been removed from the voter rolls in his program to make sure noncitizens don’t have the chance to cast ballots.

“Not one person has been taken off the voter rolls that was a resident, a U.S. citizen who has the right to vote,” Scott said Tuesday in Miami.

But that might not be the case.

In two counties — Collier and Lee — at least nine people have been removed from the voter rolls under Scott’s program, and elections officials have no solid proof that those people are noncitizens. More could be purged soon.

It’s that lack of certainty that concerns Democrats, liberals and voting-rights groups, who have sued the state to stop the program. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice also filed suit.

Critics say they worry that the program will spook legitimate voters who are immigrants.

“This affects the immigrant community and the rumor mill is churning,” said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, a Miami lawyer representing the Advancement Project and a coalition of other liberal-leaning groups opposed to the program.

“People are in fear,” she said. “This is complicated and threatening.”

But Scott said he’s trying to make sure ineligible voters aren’t fraudulently casting ballots and “diluting” lawful vote.

More than 100 noncitizens have been spotted on the rolls so far, officials say, and nearly half might have voted.

The numbers are small and isolated, in large part because Lee and Collier appear to be the only two major Florida counties that are continuing with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship.

The other major Florida counties stopped the process amid concerns with the accuracy of a list of 2,700 potential noncitizens furnished by the state. The list disproportionately contained the names of actual citizens legally entitled to vote and incidentally happened to target more minorities than non-Hispanic whites and Republicans.

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