Two Miami-Dade men caught up in a controversial voter purge could face criminal charges for possibly casting unlawful ballots in Florida elections, The Miami Herald has learned.
The cases of Neville M. Walters and Ramon Cue add a new layer of political complexity to Florida’s contentious noncitizen voter purge, a focal point in the national debate over fraud and fairness in this year’s presidential election.
On Friday, county elections supervisors showed so little faith in the state-led purge that their state association said they shouldn’t cooperate. The announcement came just hours after the U.S. Justice Department ordered Florida to stop its effort citing two federal voting-rights laws, partly because the purge could disproportionately affect minorities.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wouldn’t rule out fighting the Justice Department in court. “We want fair elections,” Scott said. “We want people who have the right to vote go out there and vote.”
The cases of Cue and Neville could strengthen his administration’s hand because they suggest there’s a good chance more ineligible voters are on the rolls and could cast ballots unlawfully if they’re not stopped.
They were among 13 registered voters who acknowledged they weren’t U.S. citizens, Miami-Dade’s election supervisor says. Since elections records show each voted — Cue once in 1996 and Walters seven times since 2000 — the office forwarded the men’s names to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office. The two could face third-degree felony charges.
“We are investigating the allegations,” said Ed Griffith, Miami-Dade state attorney’s office spokesman. “First, we need to make sure the data is accurate.”
No easy task. Any large-scale effort to clean voter rolls is beset with false positives and errors due to misspellings and inaccurate addresses in a database of more than 11 million active voters, plus nearly 1 million more classified as inactive voters.
Cue, 53 and from Miami, told The Herald he’s a schizophrenic, doesn’t remember voting and said three others have his same name and birth date.
“I’ve never voted a day in my life,” Cue said. “I’ve lived in this house for 14 years and I have never filled out any paperwork regarding voting.”
Neville couldn’t be reached.
The 13 total noncitizen voters identified so far on the Miami-Dade rolls are minuscule compared to the 492 people identified as citizens and, therefore, lawful voters.
Of the more than 1,600 potential noncitizens in Miami-Dade; about 65 percent have cast ballots. About 72 percent have cast ballots of the 262 identified in Broward.
In all, the Florida Division of Elections has identified nearly 2,700 voters who may not be eligible to vote because they are not U.S. citizens. But, supervisors say, the vast majority found have turned out to be citizens.
Miami-Dade is the state’s most-populous county and has the largest foreign-born population. As a result, its residents are most likely to be flagged in a sweep of potential noncitizens.
Hispanics are the state’s largest immigrant group. As a result, they account for 58 percent of those flagged as potential noncitizens, a Miami Herald analysis found. Hispanics make up 13 percent of the state’s 11.3 million active registered voters.