By Judd Legum, ThinkProgress
Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) has ordered the state to purge all “non-citizens” from the voting rolls prior to November’s election. But that list compiled by the Scott administration is so riddled with errors that, in Miami-Dade County alone, hundreds of U.S. citizens are being told they are ineligible to vote, ThinkProgress has learned exlusively.
According to data from the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections obtained by ThinkProgress:
1638 people in Miami-Dade County were flagged by the state as “non-citizens” and sent letters informing them that they were ineligible to vote.
Of that group, 359 people have subsquently provided the county with proof of citizenship.
Another 26 people were identified as U.S. citizens directly by the county.
The bulk of the remaining 1200 people have simply not responded yet to a letter sent to them by the Supervisor of Elections.
You can see a similar letter sent to alleged “non-citizens” by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections HERE. (“The Supervisor of Elections… has received information that you are not a citizen of the United States.”) If recipients of the letter do not respond within 30 days – a deadline that is mere days away – they will be summarily removed from the voting rolls. The voters purged from the list, election officials tell ThinkProgress, will inevitably include fully eligible Florida voters.
In short, an excess of 20 percent of the voters flagged as “non-citizens” in Miami-Dade are, in fact, citizens. And the actual number may be much higher.
An analysis of the state-wide list by the Miami Herald found that “Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted” as ineligible by the list. Conversely, “whites and Republicans are disproportionately the least-likely to face the threat of removal.”
Late last year, Scott ordered his Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to “to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the voter rolls.” Browning could not access to reliable citizenship data. So election officials attempted to identify non-U.S. citizens by comparing data from the state motor vehicle administration with the voting file. That process produced a massive list of 182,000 names, which Browning considered unreliable and refused to release. Browning resigned in February and Scott pressed forward with the purge.
The Fair Elections Legal Network, which is challenging the purge, noted that database matching is “notoriously unreliable” and “data entry errors, similar-sounding names, and changing information can all produce false matches.” Further, some voters may have naturalized since their license information was collected.
For example, Juan Artabe, a resident of Miami-Dade, was flagged as a “non-citizen” based on motor vehicle records from 2006. He became a citizen in 2008 but no one notified the state. He was able to retain his ability to vote only by sending his citizenship papers to the Supervisor of Elections.
The situation in Miami-Dade is also apparent in elsewhere in Florida. According to a local reports in smaller Polk County of the 21 voters flagged by the state “nine appear to be citizens, leaving 12 as questionable.”
The purge of fully eligible voters from the voting rolls by Scott could be enough to tip the balance in Florida and, perhaps, the presidential election. In 2000, the final (disputed) margin was just 537 votes.