Broward election officials report that progress is slow in verifying whether or not a list of potential illegal voters — who may not be U.S. citizens — are truly eligible to cast ballots in future elections.
Following orders from state election officials, the county sent letters earlier this month to 259 registered voters who may be ineligible to vote, but have received only about six responses to date, said Brenda Snipes, the county’s supervisor of elections, at a news conference Thursday in Lauderhill.
She pointed out that most of the 259 voters deemed as possibly ineligible did not actually vote in any recent election. She said “a little over 50” people cast ballots, meaning the pool of possible illegal voters is small when considering Broward has nearly 1.1 million registered voters.
“We won’t be rash in taking the individuals off the rolls...,” said Snipes. “The most sacred right we all have is the right to vote.”
Broward, like other Florida counties, is following orders handed down by the state Division of Elections, which initially identified roughly 180,000 potential non-citizens by searching a computer database from the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. But the drivers’ license list doesn’t automatically update when someone becomes a U.S. citizen. The state later whittled the list to more than 2,600 voters and forwarded those names to counties.
In Florida, it is a felony to falsely swear on a voter application or cast a vote as a non-citizen.
Democrats have since criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for what they say is a “misguided” effort to purge legal voters from the rolls before this year’s presidential elections.
Those on the list have 30 days to provide proof or face being removed from the list. Residents can request a hearing with the supervisor’s office, but so far none have done so, said Snipes.
She said her office has tried to contact those on the potential non-citizen list by phone and by spreading the word within immigrant communities.
Snipes’ office also has a list of people within the past year excused from jury duty because they provided proof that they were not citizens. The clerk’s office provided that list of about 180 names about a month ago, said Pat Lavigne, manager of jury administration.
As part of Florida’s motor-voter law, residents can register to vote when they get their drivers’ license.
Snipes said county election officials have removed “thousands” of felons and more than 9,000 registered voters who are deceased.
Snipes said she is “very comfortable in the cleanliness of the rolls” in Broward.