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State releases 'obsolete' list of possible noncitizen voters

It took weeks and weeks, but the state of Florida on Thursday finally released a list of 180,506 voters whose citizenship is in question, based on a cross-check of a database of Florida drivers. But state officials called the list "obsolete" and said they would not use it to "purge" anyone from the right to vote this fall -- leaving open the possibility that some noncitizens could cast ballots.

The list includes voters' names, dates of birth, and their nine-digit voter ID numbers. Information on voters' race, party affiliation home address was not included, and the state said that data was not part of the information the state used to create the list.

An initial review by the Times/Herald showed that people with Hispanic surnames have a strong presence on the list, including 4,969 people with the first name of Jose; 2,832 named Rodriguez; 1,958 named Perez and 1,915 named Hernandez. 

The now-discredited list was compiled last year by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles by cross-matching people identified as noncitizens with the state's voter registration database. The process began after Gov. Rick Scott had asked then-Secretary of State Kurt Browning if any noncitizens were registered to vote in Florida.

About 1,400 of the names on the latest list were also included in a list of 2,600 voters released in April, which triggered purge efforts by county election supervisors and several lawsuits. The state said it released the list only because news organizations and voter advocacy groups had demanded it under Florida public records law.

Scott's chief election spokesman, Chris Cate, issued this statement: "In no circumstances should the inclusion of names on this list be interpreted as a determination by the Florida Department of State regarding the eligibility of any registered voter. The process of identifying and removing non-citizens from the voter rolls has been on hold until information can be verified using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's SAVE database, which we expect to be able to do very soon using names from a new matching process." 

-- Steve Bousquet