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Florida May Restart Search for Noncitizen Voters

July 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

The next step in Floridas struggle with the federal government over how to find non-U.S. citizens among the list of registered voters will come out later this week.

And that could mean the effort to check for noncitizens is restarted.

But dont expect county elections officials to immediately go along -- at least, not until the state can do a better job of backing up claims that an individual shouldnt be registered as a voter.

Gov. Rick Scott said Monday in an interview on Fox News that state officials are deciding how to proceed with the review following a federal decision last week that favored the states effort.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on June 27 turned down a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to prohibit state elections officials from removing suspected noncitizens from the lists of registered voters.

Justice officials have sought to impose a temporary restraining order to block the review that had been halted by the majority of the states 67 supervisors of elections.

Hinkle stated, in his ruling, that his decision was based in part on the state having halted the review.

But Scott said that based upon the judges ruling, there would be irreparable harm in allowing noncitizens to vote. Besides, Scott added, Hinkle didnt rule that noncitizens couldnt be removed within 90 days of an election, as the U.S. Department of Justice had argued.

Were going to decide this week what the next step is, Scott said while appearing on Fox News on Monday. I want fair, honest elections.

However, county supervisors wont proceed unless the state can provide better proof that the names submitted may not be U.S. citizens.

We will not remove anyone from our member database unless we have credible and reliable information, said Vicki Davis, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisor of Elections andthe Martin County elections supervisor.

Unless the state can come up with a better list and documentation -- because they didnt provide any -- I dont see supervisors moving forward.

The DOJ has argued that the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act, claiming the state needed federal approve to conduct the review as it is being undertaken within 90 days of an election, and that the Voting Rights Act requires Florida to get preclearance for voting-related changes in five counties -- Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe.

The state has filed its own lawsuit against the federal government claiming the Obama administration has kept the state from accessing the Department of Homeland Security database needed to assist in the review.

Approximately 2,600 names were sent out from the state Division of Elections in April with roughly 100 people found by elections officials to be noncitizens, more than 500 determined to be U.S. citizens, and reportedly another 180,000 names awaiting further review.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (850) 215-9889.

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