A year after vociferously defending his error-riddled voter purge, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner (R) is now admitting he was at fault for trying to kick thousands of legitimate voters off the rolls before the 2012 presidential election. Detzner kicked off a five-day road tour this week to pitch a second voter purge to local elections officials and the general public…by acknowledging that his last attempt was a disaster. The Secretary of State is promising voters this new purge will be better than the last.
“I accept responsibility for the effort,” Detzner told reporters. “It could have been better. It should have been better.”
Last year, Detzner insisted that Florida’s failed voter purge was his “moral duty” and his “passion.” Using motor vehicle records, his office created a list of more than 180,000 suspected non-citizens, pared that down to 2,700 names, and was left with 198 people. The lists, mainly comprised of Latino, African and Asian Americans, were full of mistakes, targeting U.S. citizens because of a misspelled name or outdated address.
Florida’s county election supervisors refused to go along with the purge, and the Justice Department sued over possible racial discrimination. Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) hunt for non-citizen voters ultimately turned up a single case out of 11 million voters, a Canadian citizen who voted in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
Initially claiming he had no regrets over the purge and other voter suppression laws that created marathon lines and chaos at the polls on Election Day, Detzner is now trying to smooth things over with skeptical elections supervisors. “We learned from the mistakes we made,” Detzner said. “We won’t make the same mistakes.”
Florida’s new voter purge effort, enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act in some Florida counties, will use a federal database of immigrants, which was found to be out of date and incorrectly identified many naturalized citizens as non-citizens. This time around, the Secretary of State will let the elections supervisors decide how an individual can prove citizenship, likely creating a patchwork of different standards across the state. A supervisor could also demand to see a suspected non-citizen’s naturalization certificate, which costs $680 for an original, or $345 for a copy.