Here we go again. As we gear up for another election, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has announced another attempt at purging the state’s voter rolls of non-U.S. citizens. Hark back to last year’s voter purge debacle, in which the state’s list of targeted non-U.S. citizens began at 182,000, shrank to 2,600, and was further reduced to 198. The county supervisors of election stopped the effort shortly before voting started for the presidential election. A mere 85 of Florida’s 12 million registered voters were removed from the rolls — hardly a matter requiring drastic action or worth risking disenfranchisement. Furthermore, it is unclear whether any of those individuals had actually voted. The 2012 voter purge was marred by faulty lists, heavy-handedness from Tallahassee, a disregard for the county election supervisors and a plethora of lawsuits and costly legal actions. Many supervisors were embarrassed to be part of the state’s sloppy and ill-timed efforts.
We can all agree that the voter rolls should accurately reflect only eligible voters and be free of duplicate registrations, deceased individuals, noncitizens, nonresidents and the imprisoned.
As part of their daily activities, the locally elected supervisors of election routinely update their registration information — adding new voters, changing names, addresses and party affiliation and removing individuals from the voting rolls.
Contrary to some political rhetoric, these county voter rolls are far from stagnant.
According to voter registration statistics provided by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, Florida has removed 6,585,085 voters since the Florida Voter Registration Act went into effect in 1995. This represents an average of 366,000 voters annually.