Why is Florida Telling Eligible Voters They Can’t Vote?
Move comes after Republican governor tries to purge non-citizens from voting rolls.
Florida is such an important swing state that voter turnout there could tip the presidential election in Barack Obama or Mitt Romney’s favor. In the year 2000, George W. Bush defeated Al Gore after getting just a 537-vote edge in Florida. While it’s too early to tell what kind of role the Sunshine State will play in the 2012 race, concerns have been raised over Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to oust hundreds of Floridians from the voting rolls for fear that non-citizens will illegally cast ballots.
There’s just one problem: More than 20 percent of the 1,638 Floridians who’ve been classified as non-citizens actually are eligible to vote. What’s more, many of the misidentified voters are Latinos, Democrats or independents and likely to vote for President Obama.
These voters received letters from state election officials informing them that they’re not U.S. citizens and thus ineligible to vote. Think Progress reports that so far, 359 people wrongly flagged as non-citizens have responded to the letters with proof of their citizenship. One, Juan Artabe of Miami-Dade County, was identified as a non-citizen because of motor vehicle records from 2006. Then he had yet to be naturalized, a move he made in 2008.
The Fair Elections Legal Network says that other Floridians may be in Artabe’s situation. Although Artabe responded to the letter he received with proof of his citizenship, 1,200 of his fellow Floridians have not, and they have only days to do so. If they fail to meet the state’s 30-day deadline, they will permanently be removed from Florida’s voting rolls. That’s 1,200 votes that would likely go to President Obama.
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