Undaunted by the failures of the state's last attempt at a voter purge, Secretary of State Kent Detzner is expected to send a revised list of alleged non-citizens to the 67 different supervisors of elections throughout the state. But Democrats and minority advocacy groups remain extremely dubious.
"The current purge places the burden on we, the Latino community. And on the African-American community. On the minority community. And I ask why?" said Tampa Democratic state Representative Janet Cruz at a news conference in front of the Hillsborough County Center in downtown Tampa on Tuesday. Holding up her passport, Cruz said she now feels she must carry it on her when she goes to the polls to vote. "When will the government stop asking us to show our papers?" she asked.
Advocates say that over 80 percent of those on the first purge lists were people of color, and over 60 percent of them were Hispanic.
A similar effort to purge voters came to a crashing halt in 2012 after several supervisors of elections, starting with Hillsborough's Craig Latimer, stopped the purge of their own volition, claiming that the lists were simply inaccurate. "I talked to our supervisor of elections [Latimer] who stopped the last purge," Cruz said. "it was a waste of time and resources and an insult to Hillsborough County."
The 2012 voting purge ended up being quite a debacle for Detzner's office as the list of suspected non-U.S. citizens was reduced dramatically from an original total of 182,000 to 2,600 to 198 before various SOE's shut the whole thing down.
Detzner is now promising a much more efficient list of non-citizens. It comes from the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, better known as SAVE, that is used by the Department of Homeland Security.
But both Cruz and Latimer say that there are concerns about how often the SAVE list is actually updated. Latimer says officials from his office regularly attend swearing-in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens to register them to vote, with that information then immediately sent to the state. He's asked Department of Elections officials how long it takes for that information to get updated on the SAVE lists, but hasn't received an answer yet.
Representative Cruz lambasted the state for spending over $52,000 on the ill-fated purge back in 2012, and said she'll advise Latimer not to go through with his own purge this time around. But Hillsborough's SOE says that he can't refuse to do a purge unless he can attest to the new list's inaccuracy, as was the case last time.
"The issue is that we are bound by law to act upon receiving credible and reliable information," Latimer says. "We have to make that determination of whether it's critical and reliable, and I can assure you that I will be scrutinizing the information that is forwarded to our office very closely."
And he says he has no idea when he'll actually receive the list to begin sorting through, as the Department of Elections tell him that they're still working on it.
Also on hand at the news conference was community activist Edwin Enciso, who used the voting list and Rick Scott's recent selection of former South Florida state Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera to be his Lieutenant Governor to bash the governor.
"When is Rick Scott's administration going to stop asking Latinos to show their papers?" he asked. Referring to Lopez-Cantera's initial support for an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida in 2011, Enciso said, "Rick Scott's still advancing his anti-Latino agenda, but now he's selling it with the Lopez-Cantera label."
“Secretary Detzner worked with the Legislature last year to make effective changes to elections laws to give Florida’s eligible voters more access including increasing voting hours and expanding early voting locations," says spokesperson Brittany Lesser."These changes will increase voter opportunities because his priority is for 100 percent of voters to vote and that zero percent fraud is found in elections. Integrity of the voter rolls must be upheld to ensure that elections are accurate, efficient and fair. The Division of Elections will provide credible and reliable information to fulfill the duty mandated by federal and state law for local Supervisors of Elections to maintain correct lists. Each and every vote cast by a Floridian must count.”