Secretary of State Ken Detzner, in a memo to county election
supervisors, said the latest attempt at a purge, which two years ago
set off a number of legal challenges from voting rights groups,
would be postponed until next year.
He said the state planned to wait until a new federal database,
which helps track potential ineligible voters, is up and running.
The decision comes after Scott, a Republican, faced heavy criticism
over Florida's attempts to identify people who are not American
citizens on voter lists months ahead of the 2012 presidential
Running for re-election this year, Scott has repeatedly said the aim
of his efforts is to protect the integrity of the voter rolls.
However, advocacy groups have called the review of non-citizens a
thinly veiled attempt to disqualify Hispanic and African-American
voters, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates.
The state's effort in 2012 sparked several lawsuits, including one
by the U.S. Justice Department, which claimed the purge violated
federal law since it was conducted less than 90 days before the
Florida officials at the time said they had drawn up an initial list
of 182,000 potential non-citizens. But that number was reduced to
fewer than 200 after election officials acknowledged errors on the
Ion Sancho, a veteran Leon County elections supervisor, said he
welcomed the state's decision.
"The number of ineligible individuals on Florida databases is
statistically insignificant," he said. "The last thing supervisors
need is another partisan-driven event to complicate our lives. The
entire process has been driven by partisan politics, rather than
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In identifying potential non-citizens two years ago, Florida
officials sent their information to county election supervisors who
then mailed letters to voters requesting proof of citizenship.
If no response was received, the voter was dropped from the rolls.
The effort was the subject of lawsuits from five voter protection
groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida.
Deirdre Macnab, the group's president, praised the state's decision
to put off the purge, which Scott's administration calls "Project
"Independently elected supervisors of election are already standing
sentry on making sure that only eligible citizens are voting," she
"Programs like 'Project Integrity' have proven, time and time again,
to disproportionately impact minority voters and erroneously
disenfranchise those that are eligible."
(Editing by Kevin Gray and Gunna Dickson)
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