Florida Takes Another Stab at Purging Voter Rolls

BY MICHAEL BOLLING — Just before the 2012 presidential election, Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) unveiled a plan to purge voting rolls of those who were (in theory) ineligible to vote. This attempted purge was proffered by Governor Scott as targeting non-citizens who were ineligible to vote, in an alleged attempt to protect the sanctity of the voting process by preventing voter fraud. But when there is little to no evidence of voter fraud that a purge would theoretically prevent, why use such a drastic measure to combat such an infinitesimally small problem? Is this really about “protecting” the voting process, or is it an extremely thin-veiled attempt at disenfranchising Democratic leaning minority voters? Perhaps a quick examination of two numbers is appropriate:

Fortunately, facing legal pressure from the Department of Justice, the state of Florida abandoned their campaign to purge the polls. Of course, we will never know if the result of the election would have been different if the purge had been allowed to continue. It is altogether possible that the attempted purge may have had the unintended consequence of motivating Democratic voters to head to the polls in light of apparent social and political targeting of their rights.

The 2012 voter purge was ill-conceived from the start. There was the issue of due process: Florida was informing voters too close to an election that their status as a voter was in jeopardy. The purge clearly targeted (generally Democrat leaning) Hispanics and African-Americans disproportionately to their population size. Even worse: the purge of 2012 would have put an administrative hurdle between citizens and their fundamental right to vote.

Eventually, the state of Florida identified less than 200 out of roughly 11,500,000 registered voters as ineligible. However, Rick Scott and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner are gearing up again with another plan to purge voting rolls in the state of Florida. And this time they have a much greater chance at succeeding.

Rick Scott and his cohorts tried to “pull a fast one” on the citizens of Florida before the election. Ostensibly, they have learned from their mistakes in their first attempt. The new voter purge will supposedly be more transparent, have a greater guarantee of due process, and will be far removed from an impending Presidential election. Consequently, the resistance to this impending purge from the Department of Justice and other entities such as the American Civil Liberties Union will likely be much less relentless than before. So where does this leave the everyday citizen of Florida who simply wants to exercise their right to vote?

Everyone living in Florida should be prepared to prove who they are to the government. While this may cost money, take time and effort (such as getting a government issued ID, fixing discrepancies between the name listed on voter rolls and the name shown on your ID, finding a birth certificate, etc.), it is the new reality facing Floridians. Oh, and by the way, did you know that Rick Scott is up for re-election in 2014?

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