Florida Thumbs Nose at DOJ; Cleans Voter Rolls of Felons, Illegals

Florida Thumbs Nose at DOJ; Cleans Voter Rolls of Felons, Illegals

Leonard Pitts, possibly the worst columnist taking up space at a major American newspaper, complains this week about Florida’s attempt to clean its voter roll in a column entitled ‘GOP Power Play.’ Specifically, he’s outraged that a voter should have to prove eligibility!

The outrage is that the 19 million people who live in Florida have been so ill served for so long by a lazy, incompetent and incurious press.

You would think, after the independent review of the 2008 vote in Minneapolis-St. Paul found that 393 felons had voted, more than enough to eclipse Al Franken’s 312-vote margin of victory in just two counties, journos in Florida, the hotspot of election controversy, would have gotten on the ball and started combing through our voter roll to find out how many felons are on it, and how many dead people, how many non-citizens, and how many second home owners already voting Up North. They haven’t. None have, to my knowledge. Because they Don’t Care. They don’t want  a clean roll. Let’s face it. They want a roll they can monkey with.

There’s plenty of evidence the Florida voter roll has lots of ineligible voters on it.

Late last year, South Florida radio talk show host Joyce Kaufman told her listeners she got an absentee ballot in the mail for her mother who had passed away in 2010. Kaufman recounted how she’d contacted the office of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections and submitted the appropriate paperwork for her mother to be removed from the voter rolls. But she wasn’t, and the absentee ballot came in the mail months later, addressed to someone who wasn’t around anymore to vote.

When she came back from the next commercial break, she said a mailman had called to say he’d just delivered 10 absentee ballots to the same home–all of them addressed to people he’d never heard of.

There was no report of this in newspapers here in South Florida.

The entire voter roll in the State of Florida needs to be reviewed by teams of rational people who will not stop to complain that the ineligibles are all Democrats. Florida, the battleground in the 2000 presidential election, still has deep scars, and experiences tremors that indicate another election eruption could be just around the corner. The integrity of the roll is of the highest importance. It is the starting point for a free and fair election. It is being scrutinized in Tallahassee. It should be scrutinized by journalists as well, or others of more sound mind, with the results published for all to see. Don’t tell me Minneapolis-St. Paul had a voter roll chock full of felons ineligible to vote but Miami doesn’t. Don’t tell me, in a state where about 19 percent of the population (not counting the hundreds of thousands or even millions of illegals who don’t answer the door when the census workers come knocking) is Spanish speaking, we don’t have illegals on the voter roll.

I have suspicions, based on evidence, that the roll here in Florida is a mess.

In the spring of 2000, the Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections told me he faced a serious obstacle in trying the clean the roll of ineligibles–the “Motor Voter” law. He couldn’t take people off without going through a very long process. And even then, he often could not remove people–people who’d moved away years ago, died, or were otherwise ineligible.

And when I lived in Key West, the Democrat challenger running for elections supervisor, Henry Woods, a long-time political operative from Arkansas, told me he knew of many people in Monroe County (the Florida Keys) who were voting up north, using their primary residence, and also from Key West, using their second-home address. The elections supervisor, he said, wasn’t using down-time during the year to comb through the roll and find those people who were also voting in another state. I wrote about it. But no one noticed. And now Henry Woods is dead. So he won’t be running again, or speaking out on this.

No, in Florida, elections supervisors do exactly what the hell they want. If it wasn’t election season, you couldn’t get the elections supervisor in Monroe County on the phone. I called here and there. He was always out. Wouldn’t you be if you had a constitutional office (“I don’t have a boss!”), a six-figure salary, a boat docked at the marina, and a lazy local press?

Kurt Browning, who resigned as Florida’s Secretary of State, and thereby elections chief, in February, immediately following the Republican primary here, told me that when the Help America Vote Act went into effect, mandating that the voter roll be maintained at the state level, county elections supervisors (I’m a constitutional officer! I don’t have a boss!) pitched a fit, and demanded to retain control over the lists at the county level.

So the state runs names of new voters against several lists to see if they’re not dead, not felons and so forth, and to match them with drivers licenses. And then the state sends an e-mail to the county saying remove this person, or this list of people. But sometimes the counties don’t do it. Or they don’t do it for a very long time.

“What we’ve had is the problem of some supervisors just weren’t doing it,” Browning told me.

Browning said his office set up a tool so that the state got a notice when the county hadn’t opened the file containing the request to remove someone who was ineligible from the roll. They got one at 30 days, and 60 days and 90. The state would then send reminders. But even this didn’t work with some supervisors.

“I was getting really pissed off,” says Browning. He says he warned them that one day they’d get a call from a reporter asking why the hell there were so many duplicates on the roll. But while duplicates can mess things up, making it impossible to calculate voter turnout, for example, the real problem that Florida has identified is with fraudulent registrations.

No Wonder!

Thanks to Motor Voter, which went into full effect in 1995, you can register to vote by mail, filling out a little card. And you don’t have to provide either a Social Security number or a driver’s license number. Fabulous! Fabulous for fraud, not for democracy, not for one-man-one-vote. All of our votes are diluted by those who shouldn’t be voting. Let’s find them, and purge them, as Florida is trying to do.

The Florida press is going to resist the effort, and tar those trying with the usual – racist, bigot, blah, blah, blah. They want to perpetuate the total myth that poor and minority Democrats in Florida have been prevented from voting in the past–most notably in 2000–and are now being pushed off the list of eligible voters.

Let’s clear up something about 2000. In predominantly black, Democratic precincts in South Florida, where most people working at the polls on Election Day are likely to be black Democrats, there’s no oppressor lurking around who could possibly deny black Democrats their vote. In fact, my personal experience campaigning for a black Republican running for State House in a black area of Miami in 2000 was violation by black Democrats of laws against campaigning within 50 feet of a polling place. When there are few Republicans around, as in most years, it’s anything goes.

Florida had until Wednesday to respond to the Department of Justice’s complaint that removing people suspected of being illegal aliens from its voter roll is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Florida’s new secretary of state, Ken Detzner, responded to Justice late Wednesday that, not only is it not a violation of the Voting Rights Act for Florida to review its own roll and remove those people who are ineligible, it is its obligation, and necessary to prevent election fraud.
“It is an unfortunate but now undeniable fact that Florida’ s voter rolls include individuals who are not citizens of the United States. The Florida Department of State has a solemn obligation to ensure the integrity of elections in this State,” Detzner wrote. “The Department of State respectfully disagrees with DOJ’s position. The actions taken by Florida to identify and remove non-citizens from its voter rolls ensure that the right to vote of citizens is protected and is not diluted by the votes of ineligible persons.”
The attempt by Florida newspapers to stir up outrage to buttress DOJ’s case is a laugh. The Miami Herald cited a 91-year-old veteran who got a letter saying he was suspected of being illegal and needed to prove his citizenship to vote. If that’s the worst of what’s happening here–that one voter who was identified as possibly ineligible to vote is in fact eligible–and has to show proof of this before voting, then we should be cheering.

And we should be wondering why it’s always Democrats who are trying to break the law and vote illegally. 

John Fund, in his book “Stealing Elections,” says it’s because it happens usually in urban areas, which tend to be Democratic. But I don’t let it all down that easy. The American system is based on law, and equal application of the law. You don’t get to vote twice, or vote dead, or vote under a few other names besides your own.

Clean the roll now. And keep cleaning, till we have a roll on which to base a free and fair election.