It is November 7, the day after the 2012 presidential election, and Barack Obama has narrowly lost his bid for reelection. What clinched it: a photo-finish defeat in Florida — a few thousand votes in a state of more than 11 million voters. And then the reports start to trickle in from Floridians who say they were disenfranchised. Shortly before the election, they got an official letter telling them they couldn’t vote, even though they’re U.S. citizens. Most of them are Hispanic and say they would have voted Democratic. This is the nightmare scenario envisioned by Florida Democrats: The Republican voter purge has cost them the election. But could it really happen? Could Republican Governor Rick Scott’s push to cleanse the voter rolls of noncitizens — viewed by Democrats as a suspiciously timed, partisan attempt to suppress Hispanic voter turnout — end up swinging the presidential race to the GOP? Scott, in a recent interview, insisted that was the furthest thing from his mind. “I never think about that,” the governor told me. “I just think about what my job is, which is to make sure we enforce the laws of my state. Non-U.S. citizens do not have the right to vote in my state.”
For Scott, who was elected in 2010 with a strong stance against illegal immigration, it’s that simple: There’s evidence that noncitizens have cast ballots in the past, and that has to stop. (Unlike the supposed problem of voter fraud, of which there few documented instances, noncitizens do vote in many elections. Often, it’s an innocent mistake — a legal immigrant who signed up to vote at the DMV, not realizing she wasn’t eligible, for example.)
After months of controversy and lawsuits, Scott recently secured the cooperation of the federal government with his voter purge efforts, an agreement he hailed as a significant victory. His example is now being emulated by Republican election officials in numerous other states, including Colorado, Ohio, and Iowa — a trend Democrats and their allies fear is a new front in the highly politicized battle over voting rights. Scott hailed it as progress: “This is great for our state and great for other states,” he said. “The right to vote is a sacred right.” The purge effort has Democrats and the Obama campaign on high alert, convinced it is a thinly veiled ploy to keep their voters from the polls. “[Scott’s] original plan would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of eligible voters. It’s clear it was really a political ploy from the very beginning,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat who has led the charge against the purge. “When you look at the states throughout the country that are trying to make it more difficult to register and cast a vote, it’s obvious that there is a nationwide effort underway to suppress the vote.”
Full Article: Will Florida’s Voter Purge Cost Obama the Election? – Molly Ball – The Atlantic.