Miami knows plenty about corrupting elections. We did a fine job of it in 1997. Maybe those leading the state’s bungled crusade to “protect the integrity of Florida elections” should have asked the experts. The Florida Division of Elections seems to harbor some paranoid notion that hordes of illegal immigrants have been descending on the polls and subverting the electoral process. It’s a peculiar premise, given that Florida’s sure-enough legal citizens hardly bother. In January, 87 percent of Miami-Dade’s voters ignored the charter-reform election. Perhaps we should encourage illegal immigrants to vote just to lend our government some semblance of a participatory democracy. Unhappily, illegal immigrants seem even more apathetic than the legal electorate. The state did manage to conjure up a list of potentially illicit voters by comparing voter registration lists against citizenship information compiled by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Anyone ever subjected to the whims of the DHSMV office can guess how well that little experiment worked out.
Turns out the Division of Elections, working with outdated information from the DHSMV, has been demanding that county elections supervisors purge a number of legal citizens, both natural-born and naturalized, from the voter lists. On Thursday, the Division of Elections announced it was giving up on the use of outdated driver license records. Instead, it promised to check the state’s voter rolls against the immigrant records compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Apparently, without checking first with the feds. The New York Times reported Friday that Homeland Security, citing both legal and technical obstacles, was not keen on sharing info with Florida.
Florida seems to be spending a lot of time and effort and money trying to stomp out theoretical corruption instead of going after actual, real-life voter fraud. In 2011 the Legislature passed a 128-page election “reform” bill that cut back on early voting, put new restrictions on third-party registration groups (like that famously subversive League of Women Voters), and eliminated the long-honored practice in Florida of allowing voters who have moved since the last election to register the change of address at the polls on election day. None of this gets at the actual source of voter fraud — an art that Miami knows well.