Voter Database Equals Big Bucks

The state of Florida spent nearly $2 million on a voter database with a flawed felon list and another $150,000 in a failed bid to keep the list private. Watchdog groups say it’s just another example of wasted taxpayer dollars, but some fear the bigger problem is voter confidence going down the drain along with the cash.

Nearly two million of your taxpayer dollars paid for the database that included this list of potential felons to be weeded out of the state’s voter roles, but the felon list was scrapped when Hispanics were accidentally left off.

Another $150,000 went to lawyer Joe Klock’s firm in a failed effort to keep the list out of the hands of news organizations. Klock also defended the state in the 2000 debacle.

Joe Klock says, “This is okay, this is only one afternoon, this isn’t 30 afternoons.”

But the déjà vu isn’t funny to taxpayer watchdog Ben Wilcox of Common Cause. He says the state basically threw away two million bucks on a flawed list and a bogus court battle.

Ben says, “There are certainly a lot more needs in the state that could be addressed and in this case it’s just common sense that list should have been made public from the very beginning so people could check it for errors.”

The Florida Attorney General’s Office does not typically get involved with public records cases like the battle over the felon list, but Charlie Crist said he personally would have had a hard time defending the law that kept the list secret.

The American Civil Liberties Union says even worse than the wasted money and time is the toll the controversy is taking on voter confidence.

Larry Spalding of the ACLU says, “If we’re right that there are systemic problems, after the election the confidence of voters in this state and the future of this country in terms of the political direction we may take will be severely impacted.”

But the critics say they hope they’re wrong. Florida can’t afford any more election fiascos. State Senate Democrats sent a letter to Gov. Bush Wednesday asking him to scrap the entire database developed by contractor “accenture” that resulted in the flawed felon list.