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Pinellas County Halts Voter Verification

The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections halted the verification process of potential non-citizen voters, after questioning the accuracy of the list provided by the Division of Elections.

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark announced Friday that she halted processing the list of potential non-citizen voters distributed to all Florida Supervisors of Elections by the Division of Elections.

"The accuracy of the voter registration database is of the utmost importance,” Clark said in a news release, “and we will continue our efforts to ensure the information is current. However, we will not use unreliable data.”

Nancy Whitlock, communications director for the Supervisor of Elections, said that the decision is partly in response to Thursday's U.S. Department of Justice letter to Florida ordering the state to stop purging voter rolls. 

"It is partly in response (to the DOJ) but we were already considering halting" the process, Whitlock said in an interview with Patch.  

In Pinellas County, Whitlock said there were 36 people identified on the list as non-citizens. Five were actually legal citizens, she said. 

"We’ve been told not to proceed with the verification process, and we don’t want to take anyone off the list who could be an eligible voter," Whitlock told Patch. "At this point we are just stopping the process. Not doing anything else with it further." 

Clark and other Supervisors questioned the accuracy of the information and the timing of its release, after learning that the state had the list of voters more than a year prior to distributing it, a news release said.

In a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Justice Department  said the state's procedure to verify voting rolls violates the Voting Rights Act of 1973 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

The Department of Justice said the system to remove voters from the rolls cannot take place within 90 days of an election. Because of the Aug. 14 primary, Florida needs to stop the process now, according to the Department of Justice.  

The letter said the state has until June 6 to respond:

"To enable us to meet our responsibility to enforce federal law, please inform us by June 6 of the action that the State of Florida plans to take concerning the matters discussed in this letter. Specifically, please advice whether the State intend to cease the practice discussed above, so that the Department can determine what further action, if any, is necessary." 

Maureen June 05, 2012 at 06:20 PM
There's a scary thought, Torrey. I was alarmed at all the things now required to get a FL drivers' license renewed, and then found out that the state has authority to sell this very personal information, albeit to specific businesses, but does not follow up to be sure those companies are compliant with the law in how they use that information. Again, Orwell's 1984? We have not only lost our national sense of personal modesty, we are losing our ability to be "private citizens." Have you gotten a Community Survey from the Census Bureau? VERY invasive! Glad I was told could refuse to answer some of the probing questions about my income. (see http://www.census.gov/acs/www/about_the_survey/questions_and_why_we_ask/)
Lynda June 06, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Maureen, while everyone agrees that voters should be valid, it is the manner in which that validity is confirmed that is the issue with the new ID laws. In areas like Florida which has a history of proven suppression of minorities, the Voting Rights act looks at the results of a change to how voters are confirmed as valid. Right now, a voter swears under penalty that she/he is a valid voter. Any change such as (paying for a public ID which can be obtained only at a few places) which results in fewer voters who are protected under the Voting Rights law is by definition not acceptable. "Evil" plans don't usually come with a big sign that says "Voter Suppression Intended"; it is looking at the results of the change that determine the intent. Frankly, if you all want ID to exercise a protected Constitutional right, then go for a National ID card or a micro-chip. Most voter ID laws don't accept passports, employment ID photos, student ID's, etc. Texas does accept non-photo concealed carry permits, however. . . no "evil" plan there.
Torrey Craig June 06, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Isn't this a tempest in a teapot, or as Billy Shakespeare said, "Much Ado about Nothing." When an individual registers to vote, the individual is asked, "Are you a United States citizen?" Yes or No. Should the individual fraudulently answer that question or any of the other questions on the form, they would then be committing a third degree felony I believe. A third degree felony earns you a stay in prison of up to five years and a five thousand dollar fine. How many people have been charged, as allowed, under the existing law? Why is it necessary to add yet another law on the books?
Vincent L. Ravaschieri June 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Voting is a privilage, not a right. I stand with Gov. Rick Scott in wanting to assure that all those that vote are eligible for that privilage. When applying for a voter registration card one should be required to prove their citizenship. The voter registration card should then be a required document to cast your vote. Today, it is not a required document and serves no purpose when you vote in Florida.
Lynda June 13, 2012 at 11:39 AM
When one registers to vote, one swears an oath that one is a citizen under penalty of perjury if false. If Gov. Scott and his supporters insist on the need to prove citizenship, all of us will need a National Identity card (or a microchip inserted at our "American" birth) that we can show to police at any traffic stop (per Arizona law), to vote and any other "privilage" deemed not a right by the current GOP, Sounds petty un -American to this liberal.

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