Feds OK Florida access to noncitizens list

By Charles Babington

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, July 14 2012 6:32 p.m. MDT

The same day, Scott announced a lawsuit against Homeland Security seeking access to the SAVE list. He said it could be a valuable tool in determining who is a citizen. Two weeks later, a U.S. judge blocked the federal attempts to stop Florida's voter review efforts; the Mayorkas letter soon followed.

A Homeland Security spokesman said Saturday the agency had no further comment.

Department officials told the Orlando Sentinel last month they had concerns about using the SAVE list for voter-review purposes. They said the list's information is incomplete and does not provide comprehensive data on all eligible voters, the newspaper reported.

Scott's administration hopes to restart a suspended voter registration purge that was hampered this year by faulty data and bad publicity. The review, using driver's license information, initially produced 180,000 voters' names considered worthy of checking. County election supervisors examined 2,625 people on the list. But more than 500 were soon found to be citizens, and the review was halted.

State records show that 86 noncitizens were removed from the voter rolls since April 11, and more than half of them had voted in previous elections.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner asked election officials Saturday to restart the review. He said it will "include a carefully calibrated matching process" between the state's driver and voter data "before any records are verified through SAVE."

While some noncitizens who are legal residents may knowingly try to register and vote, others apparently do so unwittingly. After obtaining a driver's license, some assume they also can vote, officials say.

Access to the federal SAVE list may catch such ineligible voters in Florida. They presumably would have an alien number and be listed in state motor vehicle records.

Voter-rights groups expressed concerns about Florida's efforts.

"No matter what database Florida has access to, purging voters from the rolls using faulty criteria on the eve of an election could prevent thousands of eligible voters from exercising their rights," said Jonathan Brater, a lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. "Florida must use a more transparent and accurate process and must leave enough time for voters targeted for removal to be notified and correct errors," he said.

Some state governments have sought access to the federal database for years. Federal officials told Washington state in 2005 they saw no way to compare voters and the Homeland Security information.

Colorado has sought the federal data for a year. Colorado, which has a Democratic governor but a Republican secretary of state, Scott Gessler, has identified about 5,000 registered voters that it wants to check against the federal information.

Officials in the politically competitive states of Ohio, Michigan, New Mexico and Iowa — all led by GOP governors — are backing his efforts.

Gessler said 430 registered voters have acknowledged being ineligible, but an "unenforceable honor system does not build confidence in our elections."

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

In 2007, five years after the George W. Bush administration launched a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department found virtually no evidence of organized efforts to influence federal elections with ineligible voters.

Associated Press writers Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla., and Mike Baker in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.

Greens nominate doctor for president

BALTIMORE — A doctor who ran against Mitt Romney for Massachusetts governor a decade ago won the chance to challenge him again on Saturday, this time as the Green Party's presidential nominee.

Jill Stein, an internist from Lexington, Mass., blasted both Romney and President Barack Obama, saying both had become too dependent on donations from corporations in order to acquire office at the expense of the nation's citizens.

"We need real public servants who listen to the people — not to the corporate lobbyists that funnel campaign checks into the big war chests," Stein told applauding supporters at a Holiday Inn in Baltimore. "That's what brought me to the Green Party, the only national party that is not bought and paid for by corporate money."

Stein won 193.5 delegates, compared to 72 for comedian Roseanne Barr, who did not attend.

Stein hopes the party will qualify in at least 40 states, but the total now stands at 21 and does not include state hosting the convention. Stein also notes that the Green Party has qualified for federal matching funds for the first time in its 11-year history.

In the 2002 race against Romney, she only won 3 percent of the vote.

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