It’s time to face reality: There’s no significant problem with voter fraud in Florida. If it did exist, highly trained investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would’ve been able to find it. Late last month, the law-enforcement agency quietly closed two high-profile cases, having found no fraud of any significance. Only one arrest was made. While other cases are pending, there’s nothing to suggest the epidemic of voter fraud hyped by Gov. Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers in advance of the 2012 presidential election. They played on fears at the time to pass a law that reduced early voting days from 14 to eight and restricted voter-registration drives. Both changes made voting harder — especially on groups likely to back Democrats. After Florida was embarrassed by hours-long lines on Election Day, some of those “reforms” were undone in last spring’s legislative session.
Without question, local supervisors of elections should ensure voter rolls are accurate by regularly combing them for people who’ve died, moved elsewhere or lost their right to vote. But given what’s now known, the governor and legislative leaders have no grounds to pound the table about a voter-fraud threat that never lived up to their warnings.
Unfortunately, the governor recently ordered another state-led purge of noncitizens from the voter rolls. The governor’s last attempt was a disaster. Of the 180,000 potential noncitizens identified for purging in 2012, less than 0.02 percent were actually ineligible. Nearly 60 percent of those on the list were Hispanic, though Hispanic voters make up only 13 percent of Florida’s electorate.