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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Statewide noncitizen voter purge had little effect at UF

After Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s initial voting purge of potential noncitizens was over, one Alachua County voter was removed.

Four names — including at least one UF student — were on the 2012 list of people who would potentially be kicked off the voting rolls, according to Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter.

“Here in Alachua County, it was not a huge story,” she said.

There was an original list of 180,000 potential noncitizen voters across the state, Carpenter said. She said it caused uproar in larger cities such as Miami and Tampa because there are significantly more people in those areas, which meant their lists were longer.

Since the list was released, some have taken the issue to court, including UF professor Daniel Smith who is giving expert testimony in one of those cases.

Smith, a political science professor, spoke with a UF graduate student whose name was on the initial list of 180,000 people.

“She was very concerned about being on the secretary of state’s list of potential noncitizens, considering she became a naturalized citizen and voted in 2008,” he said.

The list was crosschecked with data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

It was refined to 2,600 people, and the names of the people in each county were sent to election supervisors.

The elections office contacted the four people on the list and two sent proof of their citizenship, Carpenter said. One did not respond.

She said the person who was removed from the voting roll was not a citizen and said he didn’t know how his name got on the roll.

After a few more steps, including letters and a newspaper ad, the elections office decides whether or not to purge a person from the list.

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The problem, Carpenter said, was that some of the motor vehicles department information was outdated.

“It’s static information,” she said.

The state agreed to redo the way the list was generated. The potential purge list will now be crosschecked with SAVE, a web-based federal data service that helps determine immigration status.

Supervisors have not been sent a new list yet, Carpenter said.

On Sept. 19, a lawsuit was filed in a South Florida federal court challenging the voter purge.

In the affidavit, Smith said he believes the Florida Department of State did not act in accordance with its own protocol when generating the purge list.

Smith said he doesn’t think forcing thousands of citizens to provide proof of their citizenship justifies the handful of noncitizen voters who might be purged.

Public relations and political science senior Alex Masi, 21-year-old co-chair of Gators for Obama, said the voter purge hasn’t had an affect on getting UF students ready for the November election.

“We’re still registering anyone that wants to vote,” he said.

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