Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t like to lose. But he lost an important court case dealing with voting rights and last week he decided to cut his losses, along with those of Florida taxpayers who have footed the bill for more than 2 ½ years. Scott dropped his appeal of a federal court order that said the state’s efforts to purge the voter rolls of suspected noncitizens during the 2012 presidential campaign violated a federal law that prohibits “systematic” removals less than 90 days before a federal election. And he issued a statement that signaled a new willingness to work with county elections supervisors, who opposed the purge. “Florida is in an excellent position to conduct fair elections,” Scott’s statement said. “I am confident that the 2016 presidential election cycle will put Florida’s election system in a positive light thanks to the improvements made by our supervisors of elections, the Legislature and the Department of State.” As a result, Scott is facing criticism from the right.
On National Review Online, John Fund, who’s also a co-author of a book on voter fraud, writes: “By abandoning the vote-integrity legal battle he had waged for years just when victory was probably one appeal away, he has ensured that the problem of non-citizen voting will grow and he has weakened officials in other states who are still determined to address the problem.”
The purge effort, dubbed “Project Integrity” by Secretary of State Ken Detzner, was fraught with problems from the outset. County supervisors of election are just as adamant as Scott that the rolls be free of ineligible voters, but they are equally horrified at the thought of taking away a legitimate citizen’s right to vote. They were aghast at the sloppiness of the data the state provided, and voting rights groups marched into federal court.