Florida has abandoned the use of the already controversial potential felons list after reports a database error did not include Hispanics. County elections must still do their best to ensure only qualified voters cast a ballot, and thanks to the efforts of new organizations, that list is now public.
The list of 47,000 names compiled by the state can no longer be used to bump voters from the rolls. A flaw in the combination of two databases left potentially thousands of Hispanics off the list while including blacks and others.
The People for the American Way say the mistake borders on intentional.
Damien Filer of People for the American Way says, "This is either a huge failure in terms of the ability to put this list together or something worse than that."
But state elections officials say the settlement of a lawsuit required race fields in the databases to match identically, something they would not do.
Dawn Roberts, State Elections Director, says, "In the interests of all the voters the Secretary I believe made the right decision and pulled that component of the database."
Had it not been for lawsuits filed by the media interest this list would likely still be secret and still in use. The case went to court in June and a judge ruled the full list must be public. The lack of Hispanic names was uncovered as a result. Now, supervisors say they will work with local clerks to make sure people with felony convictions don't vote.
Ion Sancho, Leon County Elections Supervisor, says, "We are going to go back to the process that we used in 2002 and identify individuals as they become felons and remove them from the roles."
A bigger problem says the ACLU is that keeping people who have done their time from voting is outdated.
“The end of the list was retroactive so any voters bumped because of it will not be valid,” says Larry Spalding of the ACLU.
Convicted felons who have registered to vote illegally could be guilty of a crime, but given the short amount of time before the election, few supervisors are expected to pursue any charges.
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