The top House Democrat and officials from the NAACP blasted the second attempt by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to conduct a so-called “vote purge.”
Scott and Republican lawmakers have said the effort is needed to ensure the integrity of the voter rolls by removing those who are not eligible to vote. An attempt in 2012 was halted by local election officials after they determined information handed over by the state was flawed.
Local supervisors of election, not the state, are the ones with authority to remove someone’s name from the voter rolls.
This second attempt, which has not yet begun, is dubbed “Project Integrity” and will include data provided from a federal database that the state did not have access to in 2014. That new information will ensure an accurate process, Secretary of State Ken Detzner has explained.
Late last month, he told the News Service of Florida he expects the renewed effort to begin in January.
"We'll start shortly after the first of the year, on a case-by-case basis, reviewing files and then forwarding them down to the supervisors," Detzner said
House Minority Leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, says the renewed purge effort wreaks of politics.
“This is something that seems to be cyclical running parallel with election cycles,” he said during a Monday morning news conference in front of Scott’s office.
In a statement, Brittany Lesser, a spokeswoman for the Department of State, defended the practice.
"Integrity of the voter rolls must be upheld to ensure that elections are accurate, efficient and fair," she wrote. "The Division of Elections will provide credible and reliable information to fulfill the duty mandated by federal and state law for local Supervisors of Elections to maintain correct lists."
Democrats and groups like the NAACP have been critical of the purge because they say it targets black and Hispanic voters.
Other speakers included Tabitha Fraizer, vice president of the Florida Democratic Hispanic Caucus, Dale Landry, vice president of the Florida NAACP, and Bill Tucker, the chair of the political-action committee of the NAACP’s Tallahassee branch.