The massive voter purge order by Governor Rick Scott in Florida has been plagued with errors, resulting in election officials notifying hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens that they are ineligible to vote.
In response, the Scott administration has vowed to intensify its efforts to remove registered voters from the rolls.
Initially, the state created a list of over 180,000 purported “non-citizens” by comparing their list of registered voters to the state motor vehicle database. The state forwarded about 2700 names from that list to local officials to remove from the rolls. Yesterday, in the face of mounting problems with the limited effort, Scott administration officials made it clear they were just getting started:
Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state Division of Elections, defended the state’s actions. “It’s very important we make sure ineligible voters can’t cast a ballot,” he said in an email to the Herald on Tuesday.
He said the state continues to identify ineligible voters, saying the state Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has agreed to update information using a federal database that the elections division couldn’t access directly.
“We won’t be sending any new names to supervisors until the information we have is updated, because we always want to make sure we are using the best information available,” Cate wrote. “I don’t have a timetable on when the next list of names will be sent to supervisors, but there will be more names.”
It’s unclear how the new procedures alluded to by Cate will solve the systemic problems with the voter purge list. There have been several individuals targeted by the list that have been citizens their entire lives. Therefore, there seems to be a major problems beyond outdated citizenship information.
Moreover, the entire process of database matching to remove voters is problematic. 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.”
The first list was also created with information accessible to the state motor vehicle administration, which the former Secretary of State Kurt Browning considered so unreliable he refused to release. Browning resigned in February.