Surprising Results in Voter Purges in Florida, Colorado

(Source: Flickr/Creative Commons/ecormany)

An ongoing effort to purge voters from the rolls in Florida has finally revealed concrete evidence of voter fraud.

After thoroughly vetting 2,600 names culled from a Department of Homeland Security immigration database, Florida has confirmed that a single non-citizen had fraudulently cast a ballot in the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered election officials to compile an original list of 180,000 names, but more than 98.5 percent of these were quickly determined to be citizens and therefore valid voters, cutting the list to just 2,600.

Though Scott claimed that there was no intent to target minorities when making the list, the Miami Herald reported that 58 percent of those flagged for purging were Hispanic, despite the fact that Hispanics comprise only 13 percent of the state’s registered voters. The Miami Herald review also found that “independent voters and Democrats are the most likely to face being purged from the rolls,” while “Republicans and non-Hispanic whites are the least likely to face removal.”

Yet, despite the disproportionate targeting of Hispanic voters, the only person found to have committed voter fraud in the state turned out to be Josef Sever, a 52 year-old Canadian citizen born in Austria. Sever admitted to voting in the last two presidential elections, in addition to pretending to be a citizen in order to purchase guns and obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Florida officials remain convinced that additional cases of fraud will be confirmed, but currently have only six active investigations among the 8.3 million people who voted in 2008.

Colorado has had similar results in its own effort to ferret out illegal voters. Despite flagging 177 people from an initial list of 1,400 suspected non-citizen voters, the state has abandoned their purge after failing to confirm that any were in fact not citizens.

In other states, officials have struggled to find a solid backing for arguments that voter fraud exists or is a serious issue. In Maine, that state’s Republican Party chair accused more than 200 students of voting illegally, but a review determined that none of them had.

A multitude of studies and experts have concluded that these laws address a non-issue and make it harder for young people, people of color, low-income people, the disabled, and older Americans to vote.

Unfazed by the failures of efforts in Florida and Colorado, a dozen states, all with GOP election officials, are conducting similar voter purges based on the Department of Homeland Security immigration database.



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