Florida’s attempt to screen voter rolls for non-U.S. citizens is yielding a smaller number than state officials had anticipated. The Florida Department of State announced Wednesday that it used a federal immigration database to verify 207 voters are not citizens. Earlier this year, state officials under Republican Gov. Rick Scott had said they suspected more than 2,600 voters were ineligible and had asked election supervisors to purge those on the list. State officials, however, said the screening process was still a success because it yielded some ineligible voters. Florida’s announcement came the same day that it reached an agreement with voting groups that had challenged the purge, alleging it was discriminatory because they said it mostly targeted Hispanics. The groups that work with immigrants, Haitian-Americans and Puerto Ricans had filed suit in Miami and they are dropping most of their claims “This settlement represents a historic milestone for voting rights in Florida,” said Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis. “It will ensure that naturalized citizens, the majority of whom are Latino, black and Asian, have the same opportunities as all Americans to participate in our political process and exercise the most fundamental right in our democracy – the right to vote.”
Under the agreement, the state will instruct elections supervisors to contact the remaining 2,400 voters who’d come under scrutiny and tell them they’re still eligible to cast ballots. Some eligible voters had been removed from voter rolls because they didn’t respond to certified mail after the state originally distributed the list of potential non-citizens to elections supervisors.
Also, Secretary of State Ken Detzner will instruct elections supervisors to restore any voters who were removed if it can’t be confirmed that they aren’t citizens; send a letter to everyone who was previously told they may not be eligible to vote and inform them that they are still registered, unless it’s confirmed that they aren’t citizens; not to conclude that the presence of a name on the list determines voter ineligibility; and not to force anyone on the list to use a provisional ballot.