Those who fail to do so within 30 days can be purged from the voter rolls. Those whose certified mail is returned undeliverable will have another 30 days to prove citizenship.
For voters like Yeral Arroliga, it’s a pain.
Arroliga, 25, who immigrated from Nicaragua in 1995, said he already sent his proof of citizenship earlier this summer under the first version of the purge program. He’s ready to do it again, after ending up on the new list. But he’s not happy about it.
“It sounds like you have Big Brother watching over you,” he told The Herald. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
Of this list of 198 potential noncitizens, about 58 percent are minority — 41 percent Hispanic and 17 percent black.
Democrats account for 44 percent of the potential noncitizens on this list and 41 percent of the overall active voter rolls, a Herald analysis found. More than a third of the list is made up of no-party-affiliation voters, who account for about a fifth of the rolls. Republicans make up 16 percent of the purge list and 36 percent of the overall voter rolls.
Of the 36 potential noncitizens who may have voted, 39 percent are African American and 25 percent Hispanic. About 64 percent of those voters are Democrats and 19 percent are independents.
The initial purge program was mired in controversy because of a disproportionately high number of actual citizens who were flagged as potential noncitizens. Under that program, the state assembled a list of nearly 2,700 names that it identified by comparing the voter rolls with a highway-safety database that often contained outdated citizenship information.
Miami-Dade — Florida’s largest county with the largest number of foreign-born residents — had the lion’s share of potential noncitizens initially identified: 1,600.
Miami-Dade’s elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley, found so many errors in the original list that she halted the purge program until the state improved its processes. Miami-Dade still has the highest number under the new list: 82.
The state says this new list is far better thanks to the SAVE database, maintained by the Department of Homeland Security
But purge opponents warn that SAVE is no silver bullet.
“Homeland Security recognizes the database is not perfect,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project. “Our position is that it’s not appropriate to remove anyone from the rolls like this 90 days before an election. Mistakes can be made and we are urging caution.”
Last week, the Advancement Project and other groups settled part of a federal lawsuit with the state against the old purge program. The advocates, as well as the Justice Department, argue that, under a federal law nicknamed “motor voter,” the state can’t purge voters 90 days before an election.
The state says supervisors can push ahead with the purge because noncitizens aren’t entitled to protections afforded to lawful voters.
With the relaunching of the program, a judge will likely have to rule in the coming days on whether the state can proceed.
The program became a flashpoint months ago in the battle over voting rights. Conservatives argue the program is needed to help stop fraud. Liberals say it’s tantamount to “voter suppression” that targets minorities, who tend to vote Democratic.