You'd think they'd have learned from the first time around, but apparently, the desire to remove lots of minority and Democratic voters from the rolls outweighs the concepts of fairness and common sense.
Thousands of eligible Florida voters may be removed from the rolls in this year's election because of a faulty database aimed at convicted felons. Despite protests from critics and nervous election supervisors, the state will continue with plans to implement the system.
Convicted felons are not allowed to vote in Florida unless granted clemency, but before 2000 there was little enforcement of the law. That year, then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired DBT Online to provide a database of felons to be purged from the rolls. But the list contained the names of many people who should not have lost their voting rights. Many supervisors refused to use the list, but others did. [...] A study by the Palm Beach Post showed more than 1,100 voters had been wrongfully turned away from the polls.
Felons voting list getting scrutiny in court, in Keys
By Jim Ash and George Bennett, Palm Beach Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
The question will reverberate today in a Tallahassee courtroom and in the halls of a Key West resort, where the annual meeting of county elections supervisors is buzzing about a shake-up at the state Division of Elections. Will Florida repeat the worst mistakes of the presidential election of 2000?
Polls suggest the electorate could be as evenly split Nov. 2 as it was four years ago when George W. Bush won Florida, and thus the presidency, by 537 votes. And a study released Tuesday by a New York-based advocacy center suggests that Florida again is in danger of relying on questionable data to purge thousands of alleged felons from the voting rolls. The Brennan Center looked at a state Division of Elections list that showed 145,823 people were granted clemency and had their civil rights restored by the governor and Cabinet since 1964. But when it asked the Office of Executive Clemency for the same list, the number came back as 171,408.
[Scott Schell, a spokesman for the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law] said that suggests that as many as 25,585 felons who have had their rights restored could be mistakenly on the state purge list, though he acknowledged the difference could be much smaller considering the number of people who may have died or moved away over the years, or the number of ex-felons who got their civil rights restored but never registered to vote.
Marielva Torres, assistant general counsel for the elections division, said there likely is an even easier explanation. The group appears to be reporting the total number of cases filed with the clemency office, not the number of felons granted clemency. "It's not comparing apples to apples," Torres said. "They did not talk to us. We would be happy to go over the data with them."
Either way, there's simply no pressing urgency to handle it this way. The more logical way to work would be to allow people to cast votes, and then discard them when they're proved to be inaccurate. Given the impressively short lead time the counties have to deal with this, there's a reasonable argument that they simply can't get this done in any accurate way before the elections, and that the lists should simply be thrown out. There will also, of course, be myriad lawsuits -- and the lawsuits can, after all, demonstrate not only pattern and practice indicating that this path should not be followed, but manifest ill will; the state knew, the first time around, that it would reject more valid voters than invalid ones, and allowed the database to move forward for partisan political reasons. You'd think that the state, partison or no, would have every reason not to want those issues to be raised again so close to the next presidential election, especially one that looks to be close in that state.
Well. If Florida is foolish enough to throw the issue into its voters faces again, perhaps there will be a strong enough reaction to ensure that the state's results aren't in any doubt.Posted by iain at June 14, 2004 02:04 PM