Florida Gov. Rick Scott is defending his efforts to strike noncitizens from the voter rolls in the state, claiming it was wrong for the Justice Department to interfere in an attempt to stop the effort.
“There’s no purge,” Scott told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday. “What we’re trying to make sure is Americans have a right to vote.”
Scott said his efforts have already found evidence of at least 100 noncitizens registered to vote, and he insisted that those registrations are diluting the votes of legal state residents.
“It’s illegal for someone not a citizen of this country to vote,” he said. “It’s a crime.”
So far, Scott’s administration has ignored orders from the Justice Department to cease its purge of voter rolls.
But at least 65 of the state’s 67 counties have complied with the order, according to the Miami Herald
, which reported Wednesday that some of the noncitizens rooted out by the purge in two counties may actually be legal voters.
The Justice Department, meanwhile has sued the state, charging that the purge is a violation of at least two voting rights laws.
In response, the Scott administration has countersued the Department of Homeland Security in an effort, he says, to obtain more up to date citizen information from its federal database that could help identify illegal Florida voters.
Scott told Van Susteren the state asked for the information a year ago, but Homeland Security “stalled” in its response.
As a result, he said the state turned to its own motor vehicle database of information, which many county elections officials say is far too outdated to be reliable.
“By federal law, we have a right to the database. It’s supposed to be able to be used for voter registration,” he said.
The Miami Herald reported the Scott administration initially identified some 2,700 possible non-citizens using the vehicle registrations.
The newspaper said the number raised concerns among county elections officials because the list “disproportionately contained the names of actual citizens legally entitled to vote and incidentally happened to target more minorities than non-Hispanic whites and Republicans.”
But Scott brushed aside questions about the accuracy of the list by saying that anyone identified as a noncitizen would get an opportunity to prove their legal voting status.
He also refuted Democratic criticism that he’s trying to dissuade legal immigrant and minority voters from casting ballots in the elections this year.
“This is not a partisan issue. It’s not Republican, Democrat, independent,” he told Van Susteren.
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