Amid an increasingly partisan dog fight, Florida elections officials say the number of potential non-citizens they’re examining on the state voter rolls is 180,000, a figure far higher than what was initially reported. Florida’s Division of Elections said Thursday that it’s combing through this initial, mammoth list of names — which were flagged during a computer database search — to make sure its list is as clean and as small as possible. The state is then turning over smaller batches of the more-verified names to local county election supervisors, who are contacting the potential non-citizens to see if they can lawfully vote. By the end of the process, the state could send counties as many as 22,000 names to check, one election source indicated, in a state with more than 12 million total voters. Right now, local supervisors have been sent nearly 2,700 names, about 2,000 of which are in Miami-Dade, Florida’s most-populous and most-immigrant heavy county.
Some Democrats accuse the Republican-appointed Secretary of State Ken Detzner of engaging in a type of “voter suppression.” But Detzner’s office said he’s trying to make sure no unlawful votes are cast — and it indicated that Obama’s Administration is stonewalling the effort by refusing to share Department of Homeland Security databases that could more easily show who’s a citizen and who’s not. “We have been requesting DHS access since September of last year,” said Florida’s Division of Elections spokesman, Chris Cate. “We can do our checks. But we’re restricted in the level of confirmation we can do. We need help from the federal government. But so far, we’ve been unsuccessful.” A DHS official would only say in an email that Florida’s request poses “a number of legal and operational challenges.”
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, said in a written statement that DHS shouldn’t cooperate. “The Florida Republicans’ desire to use Department of Homeland Security information — which is for the purpose of thwarting terrorists and not to engage in yet another round of voter suppression — would set a dangerous precedent,” she said, “by not only taking away citizens’ constitutional right to vote but by giving state governments free rein to invade innocent Americans’ privacy.”