Democrats and NAACP leaders on Monday protested the latest attempt by Gov. Rick Scott to scrub ineligible voters from registration rolls, calling it an intentional ploy to block certain minority voters from casting a ballot.
“The obstacles, through intimidation and these type of things, it isn’t anything new,” said House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “We’ve seen this in the past. But we think Gov. Scott is on the wrong mission entirely for this. He can probably find more reports of UFOs and space aliens in Florida than there are reports of fraudulent voting in the state.”
In 2012, finding fraudulent voters was the GOP’s cause celebre. Scott’s staff’s spent an inordinate amount of time on weeding out those who shouldn’t vote. It was a confusing and messy pruning, resulting in an ever shifting list of suspected non-U.S. citizens that shrank from 182,000 to 2,600 to 198 before election supervisors suspended their searches as the presidential election drew close.
Several of Florida’s 67 supervisors of elections, who were responsible for removing the ineligible voters from the list, lambasted the Secretary of State’s office for the confusion and said they resented being supplied unreliable data. Ken Detzner, Scott’s Secretary of State, embarked on a 5-day apology tour in October throughout the state, taking responsibility for the flawed data.
But the apology came with a sales pitch that said a second attempt, “Project Integrity”, would be better. Using data provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Detzner vowed further attempts to remove ineligible voters would be more precise. Detzner will soon be mailing supervisors the names of those who are suspected of being non-citizens.
On Monday, during a news conference outside of Scott’s Capitol office, Pafford, Democrats and NAACP leaders said they don’t trust Scott to get it right this time. The new data has holes in it that promise to disproportionately marginalize Latino voters, said Tabitha Frazier, vice president of the statewide Democratic Hispanic Caucus.
In the first purge attempt, Frazier said, 82 percent of the names on the ineligible list were non-white, and of those, 60 percent were Hispanic.
“They’re at it again,” Frazier said. “There is no transparency in what is happening...no revealed methodology on how this is happening.”
“We’ve been down this road and the NAACP is ready to fight, we’re going to fight,” said Dale Landry, president of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP. “This is criminal because he took an oath to uphold and support the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution provides for people to be able to vote and to go and put anybody’s name on that who should not be on, because he’s got a big whole staff that can come up with these names. Don’t dump this on the supervisors of elections. You do this the right way. You purge the list yourself.”
Asked for a response, Department of State spokeswoman Brittany Lesser e-mailed a statement:
“Secretary Detzner worked with the Legislature last year to make effective changes to elections laws to give Florida’s eligible voters more access including increasing voting hours and expanding early voting locations. These changes will increase voter opportunities because his priority is for 100 percent of voters to vote and that zero percent fraud is found in elections. Integrity of the voter rolls must be upheld to ensure that elections are accurate, efficient and fair. The Division of Elections will provide credible and reliable information to fulfill the duty mandated by federal and state law for local Supervisors of Elections to maintain correct lists. Each and every vote cast by a Floridian must count.”