As a panelist noted on MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki” last weekend, more women have had prostate cancer than the number of people busted for intentionally voting illegally, but that doesn’t stop the desperate Republicans from trying to keep people from voting through the fiction of “voter fraud prevention.”
Gov. Rick Scott will soon launch a new hunt for noncitizens on Florida’s voter roll, a move that’s sure to provoke new cries of a voter “purge” as Scott ramps up his own re-election effort.
Similar searches a year ago were rife with errors, found few ineligible voters and led to lawsuits by advocacy groups who said it disproportionately targeted Hispanics, Haitians and other minority groups. Those searches were handled clumsily and angered county election supervisors, who lost confidence in the state’s list of names.
“It was sloppy, it was slapdash and it was inaccurate,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards. “They were sending us names of people to remove because they were born in Puerto Rico. It was disgusting.”
Over time, the state’s initial list of suspected non-U.S. citizens shrank from 182,000 to 2,600 to 198 before election supervisors suspended their searches as the presidential election drew near.
“That was embarrassing,” said elections chief Jerry Holland in Jacksonville’s Duval County. “It has to be a better scrub of names than we had before.”
Election supervisors remain wary of a new removal effort, which the U.S. Supreme Court effectively authorized in June when it struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling nullified a federal lawsuit in Tampa that sought to stop new searches for noncitizen voters, and Scott quickly renewed his call for action.
“If there’s anybody that we think isn’t voting properly, from the standpoint that they didn’t have a right to vote, I think we need to do an investigation,” Scott said the day of the high court decision. Last fall, Scott joined the Republican Party in a fundraising appeal that accused Democrats of defending the right of noncitizens to vote.
Scott’s top elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, is now creating a new list of suspected noncitizen voters by cross-checking state voter data with a federal database managed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The only voters that Gov. Scott really cares about are the ones who are planning to vote for someone else in next year’s governor’s race, and he’s willing to get the state to spend an inordinate amount of money on the purge to make sure he’s got a shot. (The Florida Democrats seem to be doing their best to help him by talking up Charlie Crist as their best hope. Oy.)
This proves the political adage that nothing is too expensive if it will save your seat…and your ass.