Republican Miami Mayor Opposes Voter Purge, Says It Is ‘Scaring People’ Away From Voting

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (R)

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (R)

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado (R) became the latest Florida Republican to buck Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) yesterday, attacking his error-riddled and likely illegal attempt to purge people his administration said were non-citizen voters from the voter rolls.

In an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin, Regaldo dismissed Scott’s notion that Florida is any kind of haven for wide-spread voter fraud:

REGALADO: I think that in Florida – and especially here in South Florida – we walk a very thin line in terms of communities. I mean, we are a real melting pot. And I think it’s not fair just to use one brush and paint everybody, because the perception that we’re getting throughout the country is that a bunch of Latino people just go out and vote right after getting off the plane or the raft when they come here. And that’s not the case. Problem are, the laws. I mean, you can go and get your voter ID with your driver’s license, and no questions asked. Well, the law has to be changed. But, you know, I doubt that we have a massive fraud going on here in Florida…

MARTIN: Have you expressed that to the governor, who shares your political party?

REGALADO: I have not spoken to the governor. And, you know, and I understand the governor is trying to cater to the conservatives, but that’s not the way to do it. I mean, I don’t see thousands of people not citizens voting here in South Florida. I mean, throughout the years, we have seen in the United States – remember Chicago many years ago – people that were dead voting and all that. But other than that, those are unique cases. I don’t think that there is, like, this massive fraud. What we should do is encourage people to register and vote if you are citizens, because the problem is that all these controversies about voters and investigators and Justice Department and police after the voters is scaring people to vote. The people are going to say, well, it’s too much trouble. So I might as well don’t even bother to vote. And that’s wrong because…

MARTIN: Why do you think you and Mr. Scott have such different perspectives on this issue?

REGALADO: Well, I don’t know. I guess he comes from the private sector. He was elected directly from the street to the highest position in the state of Florida, and he has taken his role very seriously. But I’m telling you, I’ve been first as a journalist, and then 17 years as a city commissioner and then three years now as mayor, and I’ve talked to so many people and I’ve seen so many people and I’ve campaign in so many places, that people are good. You know, nobody’s out to defraud the system in the United States by being a – what do you gain? You don’t gain nothing by voting, not being a citizen, so I think that we should be more proactive in informing the people of their rights and their duties. I do think that this controversy will make more people to stay out of the polls.

Listen to the interview here.

Regalado’s concern about the disproportionate impact of Scott’s purge on the Florida voters of Latino descent comes as a stark contrast to fellow Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who has backed the effort and said he “wouldn’t characterize it as an effort to purge Latinos from the voting rolls.”