Proposed bills put greater scrutiny on Florida's voter purges

By Troy Kinsey, Capitol Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 09, 2015

Seeking to hold Gov. Rick Scott to a higher level of scrutiny should his administration call for a purge of Florida's voting rolls in 2016, Democratic lawmakers have filed measures to mandate the listing of purged voters according to party affiliation.

Under SB 736 and HB 523, election supervisors would be required to give the Florida Department of State bi-annual lists of purged Democrats, Republicans and those who belonged to other party affiliations in each of the state's 67 counties.

The Scott administration has been roundly criticized by election supervisors and voting rights groups for ordering a problem-riddled voter purge in 2012. From a list of roughly 180,000 voters the administration believed to be non-citizens and therefore illegally registered, just 85 were identified as such and removed from the voting rolls.

The Republican governor's critics have charged the purge was an attempt to unfairly target Democratic-leaning minority voters.

"We want all U.S. citizens to vote. It's, we don't want non-U.S. citizens to vote," Scott said in defending the purge effort in the months before the 2012 presidential election.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, a vocal critic of the 2012 purge, says that, while voters' party affiliations are public record, compiling statewide statistics on the affiliations of purged voters is currently an arduous task.

"If we remove an individual, we could promulgate a list and put party affiliations there but, quite frankly, we'd like to send that to the state so that the state becomes the individual that an advocate or a media person could go and get the information," Sancho said of the potential impact of the legislation.