Election supervisors put voter purge on hold

Jul 17, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on July 17, 2012:

Election supervisors put voter purge on hold

By James Call


Florida can use a federal immigration database to remove noncitizens from the voter rolls, but there’s doubt it will lead to any names being deleted this election cycle. There’s likely not enough time.

Tuesday, the Florida State Association of Elections Supervisors executive committee met in a conference call with its attorney to discuss the agreement. 

“We are basically on hold right now, ” Martin County Elections Supervisor Vicki Davis, the association’s president, said after the call. “The timeline looks like nothing will happen until after the primary election.”

Asked whether the database can be used in time for the November election,  she said. “I have no idea how long it’s going to take, so we are basically on hold.”

The state must work through the 67 county election supervisors to cleanse the voter rolls of noncitizens. County supervisors of elections have the sole authority to remove names from a county voter registration list.

The Secretary of State’s office must work out a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, train state Division of Elections staff how to use the database, and brief the supervisors on how  it created a list of possible noncitizens who are registered to vote.

“We would like to see some back-up information provided with the list,” Davis said. “We agree the voter rolls need to be clean, but we want the process to protect our votes and voter’s rights.”

Although gaining access to Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database has been portrayed as a victory for Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to prevent noncitizens from voting in Florida elections, Davis said it remains unclear whether  the data will be used before the November election.  

SAVE is a compilation of databases with information on immigrants who were issued either green cards or visas and people who are naturalized citizens. To check a person’s citizenship, the state needs that person’s unique identifier, such as an alien number or a number from a Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. However, officials don’t collect those numbers when people register to vote and one list of potential noncitizens the state compiled was filled with errors, flagging legal voters as illegal.

Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said that use of a faulty database could lead to a disaster and he doubted whether any of his colleagues will remove names unless they are comfortable with the evidence.

“We have to check the accuracy of the database. Is it flawed by human errors, a misspelling, a typo, misplaced key strokes? We have to check for this before the voter can be contacted,” Sancho said.

Once contacted, the individual has 30 days to respond to the notice that they are being removed from the list of eligible voters.

“We’re running out of time here. It takes two months to remove a voter,” Sancho said. “Quite frankly, the process is not going to occur here.”

SOS spokesman Chris Cate said it may take the state several weeks to develop the procedures to produce a list of noncitizen registered voters and that Florida is very appreciative that Homeland Security is cooperating with the state.

“We hope the success we have had will pave the way for other states to stop noncitizens from voting,” Cate said.

View the original article here:  http://www.thefloridacurrent.com/article.cfm?id=28515936