NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA: 40 PERCENT DEMOCRATS, 35 PERCENT REPUBLICANS AND 22 PERCENT WITH NO PARTY AFFILIATION
NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS IN FLORIDA THAT THE STATE INITIALLY SUSPECTED TO BE POTENTIAL NONCITIZENS IN 2012 AFTER COMPARING VOTER REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND DRIVERS LICENSE APPLICATIONS
NUMBER OF VOTERS THE STATE EVENTUALLY POINTED OUT TO LOCAL SUPERVISORS OF ELECTIONS AS POTENTIAL ILLEGAL VOTERS, AFTER SENDING MORE THAN 2,600 NAMES FOR REVIEW
“THROUGH TRANSPARENCY AND THE STATUTORY DUE PROCESS PROTECTION AFFORDED EVERY VOTER, WE CAN ENSURE THE CONTINUED INTEGRITY OF OUR VOTER ROLLS WHILE PROTECTING THE VOTING RIGHTS OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS FROM THOSE WHO MAY CAST AN ILLEGAL VOTE.”
– FLORIDA SECRETARY OF STATE KEN DETZNER
SOURCES: MIAMI HERALD, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Here comes that stinking feeling. A couple of months ago, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s backhanded compliment of expanding marriage freedoms for gays while – at the very same time – dismantling the Voting Rights Act (because racism is awesome), we reported the not-so-distant rumblings that this would be a guaranteed green light for Gov. Rick Scott to have another go at purging the voter rolls of people whose last names sound Democratic because they end with “z” or “o.” It worked so well last time! (Uh, no it didn’t).
Anyway, neither the “past is prologue” criticism easily applied to an embarrassingly failed notion nor the mild distraction of a federal government in shutdown and teetering on the brink of a debt crisis would be enough to silence Scott’s ethnic purity crusade – though, perhaps, it would be enough for him to keep his face off it. Last week, Scott sent Secretary of State Ken Detzner to do his racist bidding on the cock-browed “Integrity Tour,” in which supervisors of elections from the state’s 67 counties – the same ones that all but rejected dwindling attempts at a voter purge last year – would be roundtabled into “we’re better this time” compliance. The difference, see, was that even though there had been lawsuits and public failures, the end result was that the state now had access to the federal Systemic Alien Verification for Entitlements database, so the cracks that evil immigrants could slip through just got way tighter, guys.
At an Oct. 3 panhandle stop on his five-city grumble trundle, Detzner did his best to sound redeemable and populist, according to politics-and-policy website the Florida Current. “I have not run across a single Floridian who is eligible to vote who thinks we should keep people on the rolls who are ineligible, to dilute their votes,” Detzner said, adding, “It’s going to start very slowly and it’s going to be deliberative and transparent.”
You’ll recall that last year’s slow start began with 180,000 suspected illegals being narrowed down to 2,600, then 198; in the end, something like 80 people were actually removed from the nearly 12 million-deep voter registration rolls, and that changed everything. We all started sleeping better knowing that our maids weren’t, gasp, voting.
Which is precisely the rhetoric that the Democrats started (re-)igniting on an Oct. 3 conference call we dipped in on with reporters from across the state.
“There is not a problem of noncitizens voting,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said, sounding not-slightly exasperated. “This is not something that resources of the state should be dedicated to. It’s designed to intimidate real voters, real American citizens from voting.”
Wasserman Schultz, never one to couch her sharpened lexicon in moderate kindnesses, went on to troubling terms like “disingenuous,” “undemocratic” and “autocratic” to illuminate her point that this is “a solution in search of a problem” for a governor who can’t get fairly re-elected based on his merits.
Responding to such obvious criticism – especially because it’s not hard to dig up last year’s notes on failure for retorts – Detzner tried to play the middle, according to the Tampa Bay Times, shrugging, “I’m just required by law to do this” before dissolving into a gelatinous puddle of gurgling noises.
Perhaps the only interesting development in this depressing redux was the reminder from a couple of people on the conference call that, uh, platinum princess of Democratic ambition Charlie Crist once supported a purge before he went all apeshit last year and called Republicans racists for doing the same. What’s so wrong with checking a database? Wasserman Schultz didn’t exactly demur. Instead, she doubled down on reminders of the “flawed process” the purge turned out to be last year and was suspicious of the costs and motivations for repeating it.
We reached out to Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles – who was to be roundtabled in person on Oct. 7 – for his take on the shenanigans, and his office effectively rolled its eyes over the phone and said it was taking a wait-and-see approach. We’ve already waited before, after all. And look what we saw.
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