heading overseas, Gov. Scott said that he would like to see some people prosecuted if an arranged effort was made to put on the voter rolls non-Floridians and those ineligible to cast a ballot.Before
Interviewed by BIZPAC Review in Boca Raton last week, Scott said he “hoped” there would be prosecutions if people purposely register to vote when ineligible.
“We have laws, you should comply with the laws of our state. You should not be voting if you’re not a registered voter,” Scott responded in a BIZPAC interview on May 16.
Pressed on the issue about prosecutions, Scott responded, “If we’re going to pass a law, we need to enforce the laws we pass.”
With the Division of Elections undertaking a massive review for potential noncitizens among the registered voters using Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles information, county supervisors of election -- mostly in South Florida -- have been directed to further review 2,600 people for their status to vote.
Three names have so far been referred from the secretary of state to the state attorney’s office for potential prosecution under the Third Party Voter Registration Act, noted agency spokeswoman Jenn Meale.
The actual nature of each of the allegations under investigation was not immediately available.
Former Secretary of State Kurt Browning said Tuesday that the state review of the voter rolls began last year as part of "a casual conversation" during a briefing about the agency to Scott shortly after the governor took office.
“He wanted to know what we as a department were doing to deal with non-U.S. citizens registering and voting,” Browning said. "He did not meet to talk about non-U.S. citizens."
The governor noted that people have to sign an oath when they sign the registration paperwork and often “people don’t tell the truth,” Browning said.
If convicted of falsely filling out a registration card an individual faces up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine for perjury.
Some county elections officials have pushed back against the plan that requires them to contact those flagged as suspected noncitizens by the initial state review.
Election supervisors, who make the final call if a voter is added or removed from the rolls, were not immediately informed of the state review until the state was able to conduct reviews.
Browning said, with his "Spidey sense tingling," he first wanted to be sure the information he was sending was accurate for the county officials to verify.
“The Division of Elections was providing a list of names of possible non-U.S. Citizens for them to do their statutory responsiblity to verify if that person is or is not,” said Browning, who spent 27 years as Pasco County elections supervisor.
From the conversation with the governor, the state first started trying to get information from the Department of Homeland Security to assist in checking the residency status of registered voters, Browning said. Rebuffed by the federal agency, the state went through Highway Safety, which has access to the federal database, Browning said.
Highway Safety records individuals' citizenship status at the time they get a license, but doesn’t automatically update the information the moment a person earns citizenship. The Palm Beach Post has reported that the initial review may seek to use more updated information that includes citizenship, residency and Green Card status.
In addition to the voter citizenship review, the state is investigating the registration status of 53,000 people who are dead, according to Social Security documents.
The reviews coming ahead of the 2012 election are part of the voting laws approved by the Legislature in 2011.
The state has coordinated past efforts of the state’s 67 county supervisors of election through a voter registration database created in 2006. The database was supposed to assist in the removal of names of people who had died or were ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction.
Convicted felons can vote again once their civil rights have been restored.
“Having non-citizens on the voter rolls is nothing new,” Browning said. “Ever since we’ve had voter registration, from the beginning of time, we’ve always dealt with non-citizens, under-aged, felons, deceased voters. You’re talking about a voter registration roll of 11 million people and anybody can sign up and that was the governor’s issue.”
Reach Jim Turner at email@example.com or at (772) 215-9889.