Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) handpicked Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced on Tuesday that the administration will soon begin another voter purge to remove “ineligible” voters from the rolls before the November 6 election. Florida county election supervisors remain wary of the effort, however, telling ThinkProgress that they may not have enough time to implement the purge.
Last month the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed to a request from Florida and other states to allow them to compare voter rolls against the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. Though it is unclear how this list can logistically be used by the states, Detzner told elections supervisors the state would be developing a list of names for “additional actions in accordance with applicable laws.”
But even if Scott’s purge survives multiple lawsuits challenges its timing and legality, the mechanics of removing people from the voting rolls between now and the November elections may render Detzner’s efforts moot.
Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall (R) told ThinkProgress that she has received no communication from the state whatsoever and does not see how she would have time to carry out the effort:
The law hasn’t changed for the process we have to go through. You’re looking at the letter going out [to those identified by the state as potentially non-citizen voters], then they get 30 days to respond, [then the county would] advertise the names in the paper, [and after that it would require an additional] 30 days to remove [the voters] from the records. I don’t think we can do it. Physically, I don’t think we can do it. That doesn’t mean we can’t check to see after the election [if any non-citizens voted]… I don’t want anyone on the books who isn’t eligible, but that’s what the odd-numbered years are for.
In other words, it would take at least 60 days between when the counties sent out letters and when the counties could remove any voters from the rolls. With the election just 83 days away, that does not leave much time.
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher (D) — who refused to comply with the initial purge effort after determining that the Scott administration’s error-riddled list was “not credible” — expressed similar skepticism about the viability of a new purge effort. In an interview with ThinkProgress, she noted that before even sending out letters to voters, county supervisors must determine whether the allegation against the voter is “is credible and reliable.” She added:
We’re in election mode. We have a lot of responsibilities in the presidential election cycle. Our major focus is to be prepared to hold general election. Logistically [any new purge effort] would be challenging. We’d like to work with the Division of Elections and the Secretary to make sure our rolls are accurate. We want to have clean voter rolls, but we want to make sure we are not unduly taking people who shouldn’t be taken off off.
If these two supervisors are any indication, Scott’s Ahab-like quest to purge voters from his state’s voter roles may have to wait until after November.