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History repeats itself with brazen voter purges

Published: Monday, June 11, 2012

Updated: Monday, June 11, 2012 07:06

Audacious is a word that consistently describes Florida’s Republican party and its leader Gov. Rick Scott.

It also describes the state’s policy of scrubbing voters on the basis of their suspected citizenship status — a supposed effort to curb voter fraud strongly reminiscent of the 2000 elections.

Scott claimed to have good intentions.

“When you vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote,” he said to the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau last week. The Department of Justice, however, has told the state to abandon its effort, saying the purge is illegal under federal law.

Here’s how the purge works: The state compares its voting rosters with a database from the Department of Motor Vehicles, then compiles a list of voters that are likely to be non-citizens. Country elections supervisors then send the suspected foreigners a letter saying that they will no longer be eligible to vote unless they prove their citizenship.

Voila.

Voter fraud, that ever-present menace, is prevented.

Well, not so fast. One of the voters targeted in the sweep was Broward County resident Bill Internicola, according to the Miami Herald. Internicola, according to the Herald said he was “flabbergasted” when he received one of the purge letters. The 91-year-old citizen had served in World War II, earning a Bronze Star for his participation in the Battle of the Bulge.

But he’s not alone. It turns out that of the 385 citizens removed from voting status in Miami-Dade County, only 10 proved to be non-citizens. That’s right, Scott’s list had a 97 percent error rate.

Thank goodness the Florida Republican Party is on top of this voter fraud thing.

During the 2000 Bush v. Gore election season, the state identified 82,389 “probable” and “possible” felons that were identified based on names, birth dates and other factors, although less than half were eventually purged from the voting rolls.

According to The Washington Post, 2,900 former felons whose rights had been restored were prevented from voting because of the list. That doesn’t include voters who were never convicted of a felony at all, but still purged from the rolls. Given the thousands of Democratic-leaning voters prevented from voting in the 2000 election and the fact that Bush won Florida by 537 votes … well, you do the math.

According to the Palm Beach post, 88 percent of the names on the 2000 purge list were black, a group that voted for Gore around 90 percent of the time. This time, of the nearly 2,700 voters identified, 87 percent are minorities. According to the Miami Herald, the list is “dominated by Democrats, independents and Hispanics.”

History seems to be repeating itself and once again, Florida may prove to be the deciding factor in the upcoming presidential contest again.

But the audaciousness of a seemingly politically motivated voter purge, despite an order from the DOJ, is something that should not be seen again

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