Rick Scott: Feds Finally Opening Database 'A Step in the Right Direction'
The federal government has agreed to open up a Homeland Security database Gov. Rick Scott has repeatedly said is needed to help clean noncitizens from the county lists of registered voters.
“Access to the SAVE database will ensure that noncitizens do not vote in future Florida elections. I’m appreciative that the federal government is working with us cooperatively,” Scott stated in a release on Saturday.
“This is a step in the right direction. This commitment from the United States Department of Homeland Security marks a significant victory for Florida and for the integrity of our election system.
“We’ve already confirmed that noncitizens have voted in past elections here in Florida. Now that we have the cooperation of the Department of Homeland Security, our state can use the most accurate citizenship database in the nation to protect the integrity of Florida’s election process.”
Florida had filed a lawsuit in June to gain access to the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program (SAVE) database after months of being blocked by the Obama administration.
The Department of Justice has claimed the state’s effort to remove voters may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act -- requiring federal preclearance before undertaking any changes in Monroe, Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties, which have past experience with minority-voting problems -- and that because of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, time has run out for the review before the 2012 elections.
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez had called on Florida to halt the review it had been conducting using state records. He claimed Florida’s request to access the database includes inaccuracies, adding that the SAVE database requires immigration-related identifiers and documentation, which the state hasn’t confirmed would be available.
Democrats have argued that the state effort is a push to remove minorities from the list of registered voters prior to the 2012 presidential contest.
The state, using driver’s license information, has asked county supervisors of election to verify the citizenship of 2,625 suspected noncitizens.
Most county supervisors have put such efforts on hold as the two governments battled over the state's efforts.
The state is expected to soon make public another list of approximately 180,000 additional names from among Florida’s 11 million registered voters that may potentially be noncitizens.