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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First of all, it’s not really a purge.

Purges are organized, thorough and ruthlessly efficient.

Bumble-fest is a more precise term for Gov. Rick Scott’s effort to cull non-citizens from the voter rolls.

Things are so confused that only two counties in Florida are fully participating in the governor’s plan. The others are holding back because officials don’t trust the accuracy of the list of suspected non-citizen voters.

It’s no wonder why. The first list had 182,000 names and was wildly flawed. A second list, revised by the elections division, targeted almost 25,000 possible voters.

Kurt Browning, a former Pasco County elections supervisor who was Florida’s secretary of state, had zero confidence in the second list. Browning is now gone from office, but a third list of suspected non-citizens endures. This one includes about 2,700 people — a molecule in a bucket, considering that Florida has 11.3 million registered voters.

Yet the state still can’t get it right.

Witness the incredibly embarrassing case of Bill Internicola, a Broward County resident who was born in the good old U.S.A. and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Oops, Internicola was on the list. And he was rightfully upset, so upset that he attended a press conference to talk about it.

Challenging a decorated war veteran’s right to vote was a rather poor P.R. moment, and Internicola became a worst-case nightmare for Scott and other Republicans who’ve been working to “clean up” the voter rolls in time for the November elections.

Already they’ve cut back early voting hours and cracked down on voter-registration drives in order to lower the participation of students and minorities, who tend to vote Democrat.

Florida being a key state — possibly the key state in the presidential race — the GOP dreads a repeat of 2008, when an enthusiastic turnout of black and Hispanic voters helped Barack Obama win. So nobody was terribly shocked when The Miami Herald reported that 87 percent of those on the state’s purge list are minorities.

That’s the whole idea!

The governor says no, that it’s all about maintaining the integrity of Florida’s elections. (Please stop laughing right now.)

Almost everyone agrees that only Americans should vote in American elections, but there’s no evidence that waves of unnaturalized immigrants are swamping the polls. Election scandals in Florida traditionally involve dubious absentee ballots, or (as we all remember from 2000) dubious counting.

Occasionally a dead person in Miami will vote, but it’s almost always a dead person who was lawfully registered before he or she expired.

The governor himself should know how untrustworthy the electoral databases can be. In 2006, he was mistakenly declared dead while he was very much alive in Naples, and had to file provisional ballots in two elections.