Biggest Turnout Surprise in Florida? You’ll never guess…

Turnout in Lee County.

Yes, that’s right. Lee County.

44.4k registered Republicans in Lee have voted in the election. That’s a whopping 23.3% turnout rate! Another 20.6k Democrats have already voted, or 16% of registered Democrats.

This far exceeds the party turnout rates in Miami-Dade, but also Pinellas, with its heavy absentee ballot system in place.

Wonders never cease to amaze…

 

 

EXCLUSIVE: Digging Deeper into the Rogue Voter Purge in Lee County

So, as I’ve documented before, Lee County is leading the way in the Great Florida Voter Purge.

Fully 44 out of the 107 individuals purged by the Florida Secretary of State for being “Potential NonCitizens” are from Lee County alone.

Back in April, the Florida Secretary of State sent the names of 2,625 “Potential NonCitizens” to the state’s 67 Supervisors of Elections for removal.

Most of the Supervisors were wise enough to doubt the veracity of the list.  But many of them nevertheless sent out letters to the “potential noncitizens” asking these registered voters to provide documentation proving they were eligible to vote.

On that list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” sent out by the Florida SOS were the names of 13 residents of Lee County.  The Supervisor of Elections,  Sharon Harrington, dutifully went about verifying whether or not these suspected “noncitizens” in Lee County were eligible or not to be on the voter rolls. She determined that two of the 13 “potential noncitizens” targeted by the Florida SOS were not eligible to vote.  She forwarded the names of the two women born in the early 1970s–one a Democrat who registered to vote in 2001 and has never voted, and one who last voted in the 2008 General Election and is registered with the “Unknown Party”–to the Secretary of State’s office for removal.

But SOE Harrington didn’t stop there. She forwarded an additional 42 names to the Secretary of State for removal. The Secretary of State’s office includes those 42 individuals in its touted list of 107 “potential noncitizens” that have been removed from the polls under the directive by Governor Rick Scott.

Yet, there is not a shred of evidence that SOE Harrington actually verified whether these individuals were not citizens and thereby ineligible to be on the voter rolls. Rather, she’s relied on information on forms filled out by potential jurors provided by the local clerk of the courts.

According to Harrington, her office has been working closely with the local clerk of courts to ferret out ineligible voters by matching names on the Lee County voter rolls with the names of potential jurors who asked to be excused from duty because they claimed they were not citizens.

“No, I’m not a vulture,” Harrington, a Republican, told the Naples News recently.

Vulture or not, there’s no way to know whether the potential jurors lied about their citizenship to get out of jury duty.

Of the 42 individuals that Lee County purged on its own, and that Governor Scott’s office has celebrated as being “potential noncitizens” that are now off the voter rolls, 12 were not even registered to vote in Lee County as of April 1, 2012.  There is absolutely no indication that these individuals, tossed off the voter rolls and touted as “potential noncitizens” being removed to save the state from voter fraud, were not citizens and legally registered voters.

Of the remaining 30 individuals who were purged by the Lee SOE and included in the Florida Secretary of State’s list of “potential noncitizens,” 4 are African Americans, 11 are Hispanic, 13 are White, 1 is Asian American, and the race/ethnicity of 1 is unknown.  As for party registration of the 30 who were dubiously identified by the Lee SOE to be “noncitizens,” 12 are registered Democrats, 6 are NPAs, 11 are Republicans, and (yet another) was registered with the “Unknown Party.”

The takeaway point here, however, is that SOE Harrington appears to be stripping individuals of their voting rights by using information from jury duty forms that may not accurately inform whether an individual is a citizen or not.

As I’ve written before, I don’t condone fibbing to get out of jury duty. And of course, when these individuals were called for jury duty, they may very well not have been American citizens at the time, but have been subsequently naturalized as such.

What’s more troubling than avoiding jury duty, of course, is that Lee County is apparently disenfranchising voters–stripping them of their constitutional right–based on untrue or outdated statements made by individuals to avoid jury duty.

The practice must stop.

Are Florida voters in Lee County being disenfranchised because they tried to avoid jury duty?

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?