Tallahassee, Florida- August 16, 2012 (AP)
Florida election officials say they have signed a formal agreement with federal authorities to let the state use an immigration database to screen voters.
Florida officials for months have been seeking approval to use the database to see if some registered voters were non-U.S. citizens and ineligible to vote.
The Department of Homeland Security agreed in principle to let the state use the database earlier this summer but it did not sign a binding agreement until this week.
The department's database tracks anyone who has entered the country legally.
"We know that there is a general election coming up very soon so we know we have to work promptly, but were absolute going to be very through in this process but tonight. We're actually going to begin training some of our employees to use this new system," said Chris Cate of the FL Division of Elections.
State officials will use the database to screen the names of some 2,600 registered voters the state initially suspected were ineligible.
Many county election officials stopped using that list after finding it contained more than 500 people who were citizens.
Tallahassee, Florida- August 15, 2012
Florida’s Secretary of State can’t say for sure, but odds are non-US Citizens voted in yesterday’s primary. Now, the rush is on to keep them from voting in November.
Asked point blank after the polls closed on the 2012 Primary, Secretary of State Ken Detzner told reporters non-US Citizens probably cast ballots.
“Yeah it’s probably possible,” said Detzner.
No one knows an exact number, but it’s expected that thousands of illegally registered voters are on Florida’s voting roles. But that could soon change as the state partners with the Department of Homeland Security to use its immigration database.
“I’m pleased to say the working relationship with Homeland Security has been a very positive one the last few weeks,” said Detzner.
Detzner expects to be granted access this week.
This is an earlier list of possible violators. There are 180-thousand names on it, but the state is throwing it out. They’ll build a new, more accurate list once they have the database.
The old list was so flawed; US citizens, some of them war heroes, were caught in the mix. Chris Cate, a spokesman with the Florida Division of Elections, says that will change once the new voter purge is launched.
“You are not going to be caught on this list if you are a citizen. You don’t have anything to worry about,” said Cate.
The League of Women Voters will be watching the state’s every move.
“Were there to be a situation where prior to the General Election or ongoing that voters were being removed from the roles who were eligible to vote we feel we could go back to the court,” said LWV Spokeswoman Jessica Lowe-Minor.
The state claims more than a hundred non-citizens have voted in past elections. If any cast ballots in this primary, they could face felony charges.
But even if illegal voters are caught, it wouldn’t change the outcome of the election, because by the time an investigation is conducted and the offender is charged, the election results will already be certified.