Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Here’s some more information about the 41 (out of the  2,625 people  flagged by the FL Secretary of State as  being “potential noncitizens”) who ended up being purged from the voter rolls.

Again, that’s 41 registered voters the FL SOS was able to  identify and purge as “potential noncitizens,” out of some 11.2 million eligible citizens on Florida’s voter rolls.

So, who are the 41 registered voters who were purged by the FL SOS (out of its list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens”). Of the 41 who were purged, the SOS had no record of 31 of them ever voting.   Six 6  were registered in 2008 and 6  were registered in 2010 & 2011.  Another 27 were registered to vote  between 1990 & 2007.  In fact, the FL SOS provided no information on the date when two of the suspected “noncitizens” it identified and subsequently purged where even registered to vote, much less ever voted, in the Sunshine State.

Of the 41 purged “potential noncitizens” identified by the FL SOS, 21 are at least 45 years old, 13 are women, and 21 are from Miami-Dade and Broward counties in south Florida.

Let’s take a closer look at the racial/ethic breakdown of the 1,599 “potential noncitizens” residing in Miami-Dade who were among the 2,625 people targeted by FL SOS.  Of those tagged as being a “potential noncitizen,” 1,214 are Hispanic, 152 are black, 75 are white, and 27 are Asian.

In all, the FL SOS purged just 15 of the 2,625 “potential noncitizens” it identified as living in Miami-Dade county.  That’s 15 wrongly registered voters out of more than 1.2 million citizens who are registered to vote in the county.

Of the 75 whites & 27 Asians identified  as “potential noncitizens” by FL SOS, none were purged from the rolls.  Of the 15 who were purged, 2 are African American & 11 are Hispanic.

With respect to the partisanship of the FL SOS’s flawed purge, the Miami-Dade list of “potential noncitizens” included 590 Democrats, 641 NPAs, and 354 Republicans.  Five of each were purged from the rolls by the FL SOS for being “potential noncitizens.”
Seems to me that’s an awful lot of false positives — citizens who were wrongly targeted and harassed by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens.”
The illegal purging of Florida’s registered voters must come to an end.

I’ve finally had time to crunch some numbers…

Between April 11 and June 7, 107 residents in 15 of the state’s 67 counties were removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being “potential noncitizens.”  That’s roughly 0.00096% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State.

(Some perspective on the numbers: In the 2008 General Election, some 1,774 voters in Miami-Dade County alone mailed absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections, but they were rejected by the county canvassing board.  Another 833 voters, out of the thousands of voters in Miami-Dade County who had to cast provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election, never had their votes counted.)

But back to the ongoing voter purge in Florida…

According to data I received through a recent public records request from Chris Cate, the spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, of the 107 registered voters in Florida who were removed from the voting rolls by the Florida Division of Elections, more than a third were purged on May 4, 2012.

Here’s a Table with the date and the number of registered voters who were removed by the Florida SOS.

DATE REMOVED Freq.
4/11/2012 1
4/17/2012 1
4/18/2012 1
4/19/2012 1
4/24/2012 1
4/25/2012 1
4/30/2012 1
5/2/2012 1
5/3/2012 1
5/4/2012 40
5/7/2012 1
5/8/2012 4
5/9/2012 1
5/11/2012 5
5/12/2012 2
5/13/2012 4
5/15/2012 7
5/16/2012 1
5/17/2012 4
5/21/2012 2
5/23/2012 2
5/29/2012 4
5/30/2012 2
5/31/2012 4
6/1/2012 1
6/4/2012 6
6/5/2012 1
6/7/2012 4
6/11/2012 1
6/12/2012 1
6/13/2012 1
TOTAL 107

And as I’ve mentioned before, it is particularly striking that little old Lee County (yep, you guessed it — it was named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee) accounted for more than 41% (44/107) of the suspected noncitizens who were purged from the voter rolls.  As Miami Herald journalist  Marc Caputo reported, Lee County (along with Collier County) continued “with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship” long after the other counties halted the purge because the Florida Secretary of State’s pared-down list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” was flawed and widely discredited.

Indeed, of the 44 registered voters in Lee County that the state removed from the voter file, only two were on the list of 13 potential noncitizens that the Secretary of State sent to Lee County elections officials.

The astounding inaccuracy of the state’s list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” was quite consistent across the other counties.

Only 41 registered voters residing in 13 counties–this is out of the 2,625 names flagged by the Florida SOS as “potential noncitizens”–were removed from the rolls.

In other words, 98.4% of the 2,625 people identified by the Florida SOS as “potential noncitizens” remain on the rolls because the Supervisors of Elections found insufficient evidence that they were ineligible to be registered voters.

The other 66 individuals who were purged from the state’s rolls were identified by eight county SOEs (Collier, Miami-Dade, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, and Pinellas), independent of the Florida SOS’s blemished list of “potential noncitizens.”

Some list.

It’s possible.

According to data supplied to me today from Chris Cate, spokesperson for the Florida Secretary of State, between April 11, 2012 and June 14, 2012, 107 people have been removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being a suspected noncitizen.  As an aside, that’s roughly 0.00095536% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State.

Of those removed from the voter rolls for being suspected noncitizens, 86 were excised between April 11 and June 8; an additional 21 people were purged the following week.

Residents living in Lee County accounted for more than 41% (44/107) of those purged from the voter rolls.  A recent story by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald reported that Lee County (along with Collier County) apparently were “continuing with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship.”

What’s surprising, though, is the fact that the office of the Florida Secretary of State–in its flawed, and widely discredited effort to identify noncitizens–only provided the Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Sharon Harrington, the names of 13 potential noncitizens.  That’s 13 names of potential noncitizens from the state’s pared-down list of 2,625 names that the Division of Elections sent to the state’s 67 local elections officials back in May.

According to my analysis of the data, of the 44 registered voters in Lee County that the state has removed from the voter file, only two were on the state’s list of 13 potential noncitizens.

So, how did Lee County officials determine on their own that 42 other individuals on the voter rolls were supposedly noncitzens? Did they have access to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s elusive SAVE database?

Hardly.

According to Caputo, Lee County’s SOE Harrington evidently decided to purge voters from her list after “a local television station compared the voter files with the names of people who got out of jury service by saying they were noncitizens.”

Seriously?

While I certainly don’t condone fibbing to get out of jury duty, it’s troubling that Lee County is apparently using statements made by individuals to avoid jury duty to establish whether or not they are U.S. citizens.  It’s not uncommon for people to lie to avoid serving on a jury.  And those who are caught doing so, face severe penalties.

But should they also be disenfranchised?

I’m really looking forward to the publication this fall of the 2nd edition of Matthew J. Streb’s Law and Election Politics: The Rules of the Game. What a great lineup!

Here’s the Table of Contents

Introduction: Linking Election Law and Electoral Politics, Matthew J. Streb

Chapter 1: Campaign Finance Law—The Changing Role of Parties and Interest Groups, Michael M. Franz

Chapter 2: Public Financing of Elections—Past, Present, Future, Peter L. Francia

Chapter 3: The Internet: The Promise of Democratization of American Politics, Lee E. Goodman

Chapter 4: Voting Machines: The Question of Equal Protection, Thad Hall and Lucy Williams

Chapter 5: Voter Identification Laws: The Controversy over Voter Fraud, Lorraine C. Minnite

Chapter 6: Early Voting: The Quiet Revolution in American Elections, Paul Gronke

Chapter 7: Recounts: Elections in Overtime, Edward B. Foley

Chapter 8: Direct Democracy: Regulating the “Will of the People,” Daniel A. Smith

Chapter 9: Political Parties and Primaries: The Tension between Free Association and the Right to Vote, Kristin Kanthak and Eric Loepp

Chapter 10: Third Parties—How American Election Law and Institutions Cripple Third Parties, Marjorie Randon Hershey

Chapter 11: Redistricting—Racial and Partisan Issues Past and Present, Charles S. Bullock III

Chapter 12: Judicial Elections—Just Like Any Other Election? Matthew J. Streb

Former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, testifying before a House Budget Committee panel a couple days ago, championed the full transparency of all campaign donors.

Republic Report has the video:

BUSH: In a perfect world, we could have a different financing system. I love the idea of having campaigns be funded directly, rather than indirectly. And have no limits and total transparency so if people were offended by a large donor, the candidate, he or she, would have to accept responsibility for the message and the for the amount of money and who gave it. That would be, for me, talking about markets, rather than government control kind of response, that would be a better approach. [...] I would suggest Congress should show more self-restraint about allowing that influence to change policy if that’s the view.

A good place to start is my 2005 Election Law Journal article, Veiled Political Actors, with Beth Garrett, and my 2010 Direct Democracy Scholars amicus brief in Doe v. Reed, which look at disclosure laws (and loopholes) in ballot issue campaigns.

I’ve written about disclosure in ballot issue campaigns elsewhere on these pages, and I think Justice Scalia articulated the necessity of transparency in a democracy his concurring opinion in Doe v. Reed, when he wrote:

There are laws against threats and intimidation; and harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self governance…Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed. For my part, I do not look forward to a society which, thanks to the Supreme Court, campaigns anonymously and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism. This does not resemble the Home of the Brave.

So, to think corporations will be cowed into submission, or be endangered by the “palpable” threat of “retaliation” and “reprisals,”in either ballot issue or candidate campaigns, as some critics of disclosure–such as former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley Smith now argue–I would only refer readers to Chairman Smith’s own writings. In his 2001 book, Unfree Speech, Smith grudgingly accepts a regulatory scheme grounded in disclosure. On p. 224 he admits:

Thus, there may be modest benefits to be had from a system that provides voters with information on the sources of campaign funds, through mandatory disclosure.

Indeed, disclosure not only provides “modest benefits,” it is the essential lifeblood of any democratic republic.

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