Maureen Russo was born in Akron, Ohio. For the last 40 years she’s operated a dog boarding and grooming business — Bobbi’s World Kennels — with her husband in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Maureen is 60 years old and has been a registered voter in the state for the last four decades. She regularly votes at the church around the corner from her home.
Two weeks ago she received a letter from the State of Florida informing her that they had received information that she was not born in this country and, therefore, was ineligible to vote.
She was given an option to request “an administrative hearing to present evidence” disputing the determination of the State of Florida that she was ineligible to vote. Unless Maureen returned a form requesting such a hearing within 30 days, she was told, it would result in “the removal of your name from the voter registration rolls.”
She immediately sent off a registered letter to the State with a copy of her passport. She hasn’t heard anything back.
It’s unclear precisely how Maureen was identified by the state as an ineligible voter.
Maureen’s story raises serious questions about the integrity of the massive voter purge being conducted under the direction of Gov. Rick Scott. Last year, Scott instructed his former Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, to compile a list of people who were registered in Florida but ineligible to vote. Browning resigned in February after struggling to find reliable data, stating “We were not confident enough about the information for this secretary to hang his hat on it.”
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), who represents Ms. Russo, has called on the Governor Scott to “immediately suspend” the voting purge because of widespread inaccuracies and a lack of transparency.
Unfortunately, Maureen’s situation is not an isolated incident. Earlier this week, ThinkProgress reported Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport. Congressman Deutch also told ThinkProgress he’s heard from several other constituents who have been removed from the rolls without justification.
It is unclear what legitimate purpose Gov. Scott has to move forward with the voting purge in the face of multiple documented errors. Florida has no history of mass voter fraud. It does have a history, however, of mass voter disenfranchisement. By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the Supreme Court halted the post-election recount.