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Friday, October 28, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott’s latest purge of Florida’s voter rolls is lurching forward, despite the skepticism and outright opposition of many county elections supervisors.

True to his “Tea Party” roots, Scott dreams of the days when most voters were cranky, middle-aged white people, his core constituency. Up for re-election next year, the governor fears a high voter turnout, because that would mean lots of Hispanics and African-Americans standing in line to cast their ballots.

They tend to vote Democrat, grim prospects for a Republican who isn’t exactly beloved in his own party.

Scott’s first voter purge was a debacle. Initiated ahead of the 2012 elections, the idea was to thwart President Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates by reducing the number of Hispanic, Haitian and other foreign-born voters.

Screening drivers’ licenses, the Division of Elections produced a list of about 182,000 possible non-citizens who were registered to vote. Unfortunately, the list proved worthless because the data was outdated or flat-out wrong.

County officials were left exasperated and angry.

Scott’s vote-whitening hit squad then reduced the list of targets to 2,600, and finally to a measly 198 before bagging the whole project.

To the dismay of Scott and Republican leaders, Obama carried Florida. This information wasn’t available on Election Day, or for several days afterwards, because Florida was the last state in the country to count all its votes.

Thank God it no longer mattered.

More than 8.4 million Floridians went to the polls, and long lines overwhelmed some election offices late into the night. These delays could have been avoided if Scott and the GOP-controlled Legislature had agreed in advance to increase the number of early-voting sites, as many county supervisors had requested.

But Republicans don’t like early voting because it raises the total turnout. They prefer a smaller, more manageable electorate.

The new Florida purge will use a data program from U.S. Department of Homeland Security called the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE. Election officials are supposed to compare voter rolls to a list of legal non-citizens who are qualified to receive certain benefits.

A federal court ruled that Florida was allowed to use the SAVE list, even though Homeland Security officials raised doubts about its reliability as a means of identifying non-citizens.

The point man for the Voter Purge II is once again Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Scott appointee, who calls it “Project Integrity.” Seriously.

Detzner recently finished a short statewide tour of county elections offices, where he tried to stir up enthusiasm for the purge. There was none.

  • Lynda Groom

    If you can’t win with your ideas do everything possible to keep the opposition from voting. That is now the national trend from the party of NO. Truly astoundingly stupid and short sided. If they are not careful they will lose the demographic war for several decades too come.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      They are actually only hanging on in places that have the following in common: Older White population, lower education standards, minimal environmental regulations. If you go any place where only one of those are in effect, you will see the Reactionary Party is losing.

  • omgamike

    When is that fool, Rick Scott, up for re-election? Are the citizens of Florida so addled in their thought processes that they would even consider keeping him in office? I have to wonder if all of the senior citizens in Florida, who are among the strongest voting blocs in the country, have fallen into full dementia, voting against their own interests, time and time again.

    • Allan Richardson

      Up in 2014, several good Democrats, including his former Republican predecessor Charlie Crist, who realized the party was too crazy and joined us.

  • Lovefacts

    I suspect that the turnout for the Florida Governors race will be bigger than ever. Over the years, Americans have gotten lazy when it comes to voting. However, the Republicans made a major mistake in not understanding human nature–while the people might not vote, they will turn out in droves should you attempt to prevent them from voting. As for voting early, they only way to counter these laws is to elect Democrats and change state constitutions to include early voting.

  • Kurt CPI

    While I agree that preventing legitimate voters from voting is a greater evil than permitting non-citizens to influence the outcome of an election, both are unacceptable. Like immigration reform, a reliable voter verification system should be implemented, one that doesn’t favor one group over another. It’s not the preventing of non-citizens from voting that’s the bad thing, it’s denying the rights of legitimate voters that demands the outcry.

    • NCSteve

      While I agree that shooting down airliners full of innocent passengers is a greater evil than an invasion by Martians, both are unacceptable. We need to spend a trillion dollars on a system that will protect us from the threat of a Martian invasion without endangering legitimate air travelers.

      • Allan Richardson

        You just lost the Martian-American vote!

      • Kurt CPI

        Point taken, but it’s at least somewhat more significant than your analogy. Republicans want to limit the voting of a mostly Democratic base. Democrats want anyone who will cast a ballot for a Democrat to be able to do so – citizen or not; living or dead. One is as wrong as the other, no matter how you spin it. That said, I understand that it’s really not a big problem (the Martians haven’t started the invasion yet). But I see no reason why proof of citizenship, proof of identity, etc. is a bad thing as long as it’s done fairly.

        • NCSteve

          Democrats want anyone who will cast a ballot for a Democrat to be able to do so – citizen or not; living or dead.

          Hope you didn’t hurt yourself beating that strawman to the ground. Democrats believe that all available evidence indicates that the existing laws that deter in-person voter fraud by making it a crime punishable by imprisonment work just fine in preventing people who are unqualified to vote form voting.

          If one person says a thing that is demonstrably false and the other one says something that is demonstrably true, the truth does not lie in the middle. The reason they call it “false balance” is that it a balance that can only be achieved by making up an equally unsavory motivation or inventing an equally false state of facts and attributing it to the side that’s simply stating objective fact.

    • idamag

      Denying one franchised voter the right to vote outweighs any voter fraud. If there were really concerned about voter fraud, they would spot checks voter rolls on off election years instead of purging just before an election. Purging should be outlawed.

      • Kurt CPI

        I agree for the most part. But “Denying one franchised voter the right to vote outweighs any voter fraud” only as long as the fraudulent votes remain insignificant to the outcome of any given election. Permitting anything other than a single vote by each legitimate voter could potentially disenfranchise the entire legitimate voting pool.

        • iamproteus

          Kurt, why do you argue a point that has been shown repeatedly to be of no significance whatsoever? The incidence of voter fraud is and has been so rare that it bears no more serious thought than would the act of mounting a search for a particular grain of sand on Waikiki Beach during a typhoon!

          • Kurt CPI

            That’s not quite true. It’s just never been found significant enough to have affected the outcome in an election. It’s also rarely been tested. In a gubernatorial race right here in my state just a few years ago the win was by a very narrow margin. Hundreds of improper votes were discovered and if they had all been for the losing candidate it may have fallen within the margin of error for a mandatory recount. Of course there’s no way of knowing how those ballots were cast and it’s unlikely that it would have changed the outcome. But it could, and I think there’s a difference between what has been found and what has actually transpired when no one was looking. Perception is based on the context in which it’s presented. Don’t forget that paid political persuaders make sure that statistics are presented in a context that suits their agenda.

          • iamproteus

            You admit that voter fraud has never been found to be sufficiently significant to affect the outcome of an election. Then you throw out a few “ifs”, “no way to knows”, “unlikelys” and “coulds” followed by inferring that the fact of what has been found to be should be trumped by what might have been. You give me the distinct impression that you may be very familiar with the concept of “paid political persuaders” and their intentions.

          • Kurt CPI

            You can look the other way if you want, that’s certainly your choice. I’m not familiar with paid political persuaders, but I am familiar with statistics, charts, and how they’re manipulated to make them appear to support a particular view. For instance, when a drug company is touting their favorite cholesterol reducer as better than its predecessor they’ll present a chart with two bars, one much longer than the other. But if you check the scale you’ll find it goes from 0 to 0.5%. So although it shows twice the efficacy, in reality neither significantly reduces the risk of heart attack. In the case of voter fraud, if you take all of the counted fraudulent votes and compare that number to the total votes it is indeed “infinitesimal”. the problem with that statistic is that fraudulent votes are almost never counted whereas total votes are always fully accounted for. But, as I pointed out, if taken in the context of a single election it becomes far more significant, to the point where it potentially could change the outcome. If you get all of your toxicology information from the chemical plant up the river you’re going to conclude that the water is fine. Go test the water yourself.

    • Commie Dearest

      There is zero evidence that voter fraud occurs any more that at an infinitesimal rate. On the other hand, voter disenfranchisement by exactly the methods proposed to date to stem this infinitesimal fraud is easily shown to be huge even by the people proposing the methods. It is impossible for a rational person to propose things like stringent ID, list purging, and voter caging with a straight face and not admit that the main effect is to reduce legitimate voting.

  • midway54

    This hairless cipher is on his last legs in Florida from all indications. He will do his best to see to it by whatever it takes, including deception and fraud, to see that Florida’s huge supply of teabaggers, dupes and yahoos go to the polls and elect those rightwingers (the crazier they are the better) whom our plutocracy wants to see in the Congress. Millions are awaiting the opportunity to send the blatant opportunist Rubio –another teabagger hero–packing.

    • dana becker

      awaiting the opportunity to send the blatant opportunist Rubio –another teabagger hero–packing.

      Boy have you got that right.

  • idamag

    All of us, no matter where we live, need to write to our legislators about voter suppression. We need universal protection for US citizens or we will fine ourselves in the same place nazi Germany did.

  • 1standlastword

    The truth is only multi-millionaires should vote republican because the GOP cares exclusively for the superrich agendas.

    I think Scott knows this is the truth

  • dana becker

    I personally believe the voters turned out even more because of the attempts to prevent them from voting. 2014 could be even bigger than 2012.

    • plc97477

      I do too and expect to see it happen again if anyone tries to keep them from voting.

  • karen_green

    Mr. Hiassen, if god exists I do not think he gives a damn.

  • Liberalism Is Nonsense

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