Rick Scott’s Florida Purge Effort Cost Localities Thousands

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL)

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) advocated cuts to wasteful government spending

Now that Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) administration has obtained access to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database — records that Florida could have received months ago had it provided the necessary information to DHS — it has officially abandoned the error-riddled original purge list. But this move comes only after local governments were forced to spend thousands purging voters from the rolls.

The Scott administration now acknowledges that the 2,600-person list it once deemed “sure-fire” non-citizen voters is “obsolete.” As ThinkProgress reported, that list contained hundreds of eligible U.S. citizens.

But beyond inconveniencing hundreds of legitimate voters, the Scott administration’s reliance on that earlier bad list came with a heavy cost to already cash-strapped local governments. A ThinkProgress survey of six county elections supervisors reveals that that 2,031 letters they sent out, at the Scott administration’s instruction, cost them at least $10,000.

Averaged out, that comes to more than $5.14 per name and projects to over $13,000 in unnecessary costs to local governments. While this number may not seem huge, it doesn’t include the costs to the state government — or the opportunity cost of wasting local employees time on processing the purge efforts, instead of on ensuring fair and efficient elections. And the number is only going to go up with the Scott administration promising more purges in the future.

Last May, Scott took an ax to the state’s budget, cutting what he deemed “short-sighted, frivolous, wasteful spending.” It appears he may have missed some.