First, the Obama administration ordered Florida to cease cleaning up its rolls or else the Department of Justice would sue the state for Voting Rights Act violations. Florida defiantly responded by suing the Obama administration in order to force the Department of Homeland Security to release information necessary to help identify and purge the ineligible voters.
Under normal circumstances, a state’s efforts to purge ineligible voters from its voter rolls would be entirely uncontroversial; however, given that Florida’s 29 electoral votes may ultimately decide this November’s presidential election, it’s turned into an all out war.
Critics of Florida’s efforts are willfully ignoring Florida’s voter fraud problem.
For example, in a limited survey of voter fraud prosecutions in the United States, the Republican National Lawyers Association was able to identify 17 non-citizen voting prosecutions in Florida between 2003 and 2006. That may not seem like many, but there’s reason to believe illegal non-citizen voting is much more widespread.
Earlier this year, a local NBC-affiliate easily identified nearly 100 names of non-citizens on the Florida voter registration rolls. After locating some of the individuals, one of the ineligible voters bragged to the station, “I vote every year,” while another person interviewed admitted they had voted six times over the past eleven years.
Another non-citizen located by the NBC-affiliate claimed that he had no idea how he ended up registered. Perhaps ACORN, which previously submitted 888 fraudulent voter registrations in Miami-Dade alone, played a part.
Although Florida requires a photo ID to vote in person, absentee ballot voting standards have actually been relaxed since 2004, despite the fact that absentee ballot fraud is much easier to commit without detection than in-person voter fraud. This is especially troubling considering that more than 40 percent of voters voted either early or by absentee ballot in Florida’s recent January primary.
To illustrate the problem, in 1997, Florida law enforcement officers seized 5,000 absentee ballots with forged witness signatures, resulting in election-related criminal charges for 45 people. However, since the witness signature requirement was removed in 2004, there have been no prosecutions for absentee-ballot fraud since.
A spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney said that although absentee ballot fraud cases had been investigated, none resulted in criminal charges because the change in the law made it much more difficult to “put together a case.” In other words, absentee voting fraud didn’t stop; it just became too difficult for state prosecutors to prove.
At the end of the day, the objections to the Florida purge are about Democrats losing a perceived electoral advantage. In order to address its own voting rights objections, the Obama administration could easily prevent the accidental removal of legal voters from Florida’s rolls by permitting the Department of Homeland Security to share its records on non-citizens. If Florida’s non-citizens happened to trend Republican, I suspect Florida would already have the list.