State demands stop of voter purge

Orange County Supervisor of Elections holds back on purge

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The U.S. Justice Department is demanding the state stop purging thousands of registered voters the state claims are not citizens.

The state is expected to respond to the demand by Wednesday. The state said federal agencies have refused to give them access to a database that could verify citizenship. The federal agencies say the law is clear, no purges can occur within 90 days of an election.

The primary is Aug. 14 and the general election is Nov. 6, meaning purges aren't allowed this year.

Many supervisors of elections, like Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles, aren't waiting and have stopped the process of taking names of supposed non-citizens off the rolls because it appears, most all of those who have voted are actually U.S. citizens.

Cowles said he remembers the last time Florida tried to purge thousands of voters based on a flawed database that falsely claimed thousands of voters were felons and shut them out of the George W. Bush election.

"Well I think you know issues come up and i think since the 2000 felon, the issue of immigration has become a national issue," Cowles said.

Local 6 reported last month that Gov. Rick Scott is seeking to disenfranchise Americans who may in fact be legal citizens.

Cowles said he hasn't found anyone that had voted that were non-citizens, but they did find people who weren't citizens that hadn't voted.

"At this point I am not comfortable with the database we've gotten so I will not be removing anyone but a person who does notify us and out of that 81 we've had three people who said 'Yes you are correct I am not a United States citizen."

Cowles described the purge as a "rush job" and said he's putting the brakes on.

"Well I think the safeguard has been the supervisors of elections and many of us who did experience the 2000 felon process knew right away take caution and verify the information," Cowles said.

While Central Florida supervisors have yet to find one person on the list of the 2,600 statewide who voted illegally, two of the 1,600 Miami-Dade residents have been confirmed to be non citizens who actually voted.

Hundreds more have been verified on Scott's flawed list, included two World War II veterans.

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