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Detzner continues to push voter purge by a different name


The Secretary of State doesn't call his plan to remove ineligible voters from the rolls a "purge" or "scrub." "List management" is Ken Detzner's preferred terminology.

But the plan is still raising the ire of Democrats, and supervisors of elections continue to express concerns. Many Democrats believe that Detzner is trying to solve an issue that doesn't exist while ignoring more pressing elections and voting issues.

"Has there been a clamoring from supervisors?" Rep. Mike Clelland, D-Lake Mary, asked during Tuesday's House Ethics and Elections Subcommittee hearing.

State elections officials plan to use a federal immigration database to help identify Florida residents who registered to vote illegally. Although there hasn't been a widespread campaign from supervisors of elections to scrub voter rolls or any evidence of widespread fraud, the effort is needed, said Maria Matthews, director of the state's Division of Elections.

"This was not prompted by voter fraud, this was prompted by doing list maintenance," Matthews said, "making sure that the rolls are current and accurate."

Detzner and Matthews want supervisors of elections to use the federal database -- known as SAVE -- to check the names of current voters, as well as new applicants. They will eventually ask each county supervisor of elections to sign an agreement saying they will scrub their voter lists in this way.

While Democrats openly questioned the need for a purge, Republicans on the subcommittee heaped praise on Matthews and Detzner.

Rep. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, said the process outlined by the state officials is deliberative and helps ensure that only illegal voters will be taken off the rolls. "I think that's where we should certainly be saying 'thank you' for this work."

Ocala Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley said the state has a duty to remove ineligible voters and that he was dismayed by the Democrats' skeptical questions.

"I would just like to go on record myself to thank you for doing the job you're supposed to do, which is to protect the crediblity of our voter roll," Baxley told Detzner and Matthews.