Gov. Rick Scott insists Florida’s voter rolls must be scrubbed carefully to remove any non-U.S. citizens, but his administration is keeping secret a list of more than 180,000 voters whose citizenship may be in question. Scott’s elections agency is refusing numerous requests from voter advocacy groups and news outlets to release the list, months after the state released an initial list targeting 2,625 potential noncitizens. Many people on the first list turned out to be citizens. The larger list has the potential to cause a bigger political controversy than the smaller one. “I want to be very careful,” said Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “It’s individuals’ names on there, and I want to make sure that people are treated respectfully. I want to be abundantly cautious about that.”
In an interview in his office, Detzner could not cite a law that makes the list exempt from disclosure. Rather than make the list public, Detzner says he will ask Attorney General Pam Bondi whether it is a public record under Florida law. By law, Bondi’s agency gives advisory opinions to state agencies, cities and counties on the public records law. Three months ago, the state created a separate smaller list by matching the list of voters with the state driver’s license database. The state sent those 2,600-plus names to 67 county election supervisors, with orders to remove anybody who could not prove citizenship status.