Florida, Feds Reach Agreement so Search can Resume for Noncitizen Voters

Aug 17, 2012

The following article was published in The Sunshine News on August 17, 2012:

Florida, Feds Reach Agreement so Search Can Resume for Non-Citizens

By Jim Turner


Florida has reached an agreement — in principle — with the federal government so efforts can be restarted to clear noncitizens from the county lists of registered voters.

The Division of Elections announced Thursday that an agreement has been reached with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that will grant the state access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) database.

State leaders have contended that the database will provide the state election supervisors with more reliable information so they can conduct further background checks on voters whose residency remains in question.

“Establishing a working partnership with the federal government and gaining access to the most comprehensive resource for validating citizenship has made Florida a national leader in identifying and removing noncitizens from state voter rolls,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner stated in a release.

“We have an obligation to ensure Florida’s voter rolls are accurate, and accessing the SAVE database greatly improves our ability to accomplish that goal, as well as ensure the overall integrity of our elections.”

Detzner had announced on Tuesday that he expected the review to be restarted soon so supervisors could complete their tasks before the Nov. 6 election.

The state had come under fire earlier this year for asking supervisors to review about 2,600 voters for their residency, while holding back on another 180,000 other names.

The state release on Thursday noted that elections employees are now being trained to use the federal database.

“Following the training, these employees will immediately begin checking the legal status of the approximately 2,600 potential noncitizens whose names were provided to supervisors of elections in April for review and possible removal from the rolls,” the release stated.

“Once the status of these individuals has been confirmed, DOS will begin validating the names of new potential noncitizens through a new matching and review process called the Voter Eligibility Initiative.”

Democrats have argued that the state effort is a push to remove minorities from the list of registered voters prior to the 2012 presidential contest.

The U.S. Department of Justice has claimed the state’s effort to remove voters may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act — requiring federal preclearance before undertaking any changes in Monroe, Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties, which have past experience with minority-voting problems — and that because of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, time has run out for the review before the 2012 elections.