Florida elections officials have repeatedly said that their efforts comply with all federal laws, which aren’t clearly written. The also say there’s nothing discriminatory or partisan about the effort. It’s simply trying to remove ineligible voters: felons, dead people and noncitizens.
To spot noncitizens, though, the state began comparing voter rolls with a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle database that contains some citizenship information that the agency collects when people get a state ID such as a driver’s license.
But the citizenship data in many cases is out of date. That is, many people become citizens after they get their ID and then register to vote. But the highway safety database isn’t updated.
As a result, the state has performed its own checking and double-checking and winnowed down a pool of 180,000 potential noncitizens to a list of about 2,700. It is asking the counties to contact the voters by mail. Those who don’t respond within about two months of being contacted could be stricken from the rolls.
A coalition of liberal-leaning civil rights groups complained to the Justice Department and the state about the process, pointing out that it burdens citizens instead of the government.
Cate, the state elections spokesman, said the state will have a full response soon. The agency also seemed to express frustration with the lack of help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which maintains citizenship data but won’t share its database with Florida.
Detzner asked again for DHS help on Thursday.
“We provided information to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security today in hopes that the federal government would help us identify ineligible voters,” Cate said. “While this isn’t a response from DHS as to why they haven’t provided us access to their data, at least we know the federal government knows we take ineligible voters on the voter rolls seriously. We hope the federal government will recognize the importance of accurate voter rolls and support our efforts.”