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.