Florida voter-suppression campaign means WWII vet has to prove he is American or lose his vote

Florida governor Rick Scott has ordered a high-velocity purge of the state's voter-rolls, using secret criteria to target 180,000 Floridians and requiring them to prove their citizenship in 30 days or lose the right to vote. Democrats and activist groups claim that this violates federal laws. For 91-year-old WWII vet Bill Internicola, it's an insult. Greg Allen reports on NPR's Morning Edition:

"To me, it's like an insult," he says. "They sent me a form to fill out. And I filled out the form and I sent it back to them with a copy of my discharge paper and a copy of my tour of duty in the ETO, which is the European Theater of Operations."

Internicola's was one of more than 180,000 names Florida's secretary of state identified from motor vehicle records as possible noncitizens. Several weeks ago, the secretary's office sent county elections supervisors a first batch of some 2,600 names. County officials, who are also preparing for the state's August primary, started sending out letters to suspected noncitizens, saying they had 30 days to prove their citizenship or be removed from the voting rolls.

World War II Vet Caught Up In Florida's Voter Purge Controversy


    1.  The link states that they have ‘demanded’ that Florida cease. Its not clear whether Florida can ignore them and carry on regardless.

      1. I read the letter, no mention of the President and the return address seemed to be the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington D.C. 20530 USA! USA!

        That’s, like, blocks away from the Office of the President.

          1. Obviously my understanding of politics is too shallow for me to fully grasp your insightful analysis of the situation, so I humbly bow to you. Also, your Google Fu is nothing short of amazing!

          2. Google Fu? The letter is a part of the article in the thread we are in now. But hey, thanks! oh and smooches, this is a lovely room, I thought heart shaped beds and mirrors on the ceiling were only on TV

  1. To be fair, “Internicola” don’t sound like no proper ‘Merican name.  For all Florida knows, this guy still secretly supports Mussolini.  He was over there in socialist Europe for a while, doncha know?

    1. It’s a dragnet…  if you can collect and win 40% black, 30% hispanic and 30% white voter challenges, then you can swing the Florida vote GOP and still make it seem like you weren’t targeting any one racial group.  When in fact, you were.

  2. Does anyone else think it’s a good idea to periodically check the voter roles for fraud? I like the idea. I don’t like that this is happening so close to a federal election and this purge may be illegal.

    1. It is a good idea in theory. 

      In practice it needs to happen much earlier (I don’t think 90 days is sufficient for something that requires documentation you might have to order). It is also more difficult for those that are poor to deal with in terms of cost or time. In this case it is also likely targeting mostly Hispanic voters.

      A Repub. pushing through something that targets voters that mostly support Dems is a little too coincidental and looks more like a purge of unwanted voters rather than illegal voters. This IMO is why Repubs push these so often, the collateral damage is good for them.

        1.  High voter turnout almost ALWAYS goes Democrat. It’s the populist party. Therefore, if the GOP can eliminate a couple hundred-thou of voters, they can coast on to victory on money-greased rails.

        2.  The lists contain a disproportionate number of poor people, because their records tend to get messed up more often. The poor usually vote for Democrats.

    2.  No one is arguing that voter fraud isn’t a bad thing. The problem is that large-scale voter fraud – the kind that could actually sway a national election – doesn’t really exist.

      These voter ID laws, along with misdirection about voter eligibility – especially in minority communities, and things like selectively redistricting based on political constituencies are all ways of gaming the electoral system itself to affect the outcome of an election. Ultimately there is more harm done than good, as the electoral process becomes even less representative of the actual desires of voters.

      1.  Right wingers hate democracy.  The very idea of true democracy scares them as it would mean they were done.  Most sane people would never vote to maintain the oligarchy as it stands right now.  No way.

          1.  Agreed. It’s anyone who benefits from the status quo, anyone who has figured out how to be comfortable manipulating people and holding positions of power and fat stacks of cash.

            Not every issue is a partisan issue. Some people are just power- and money-hungry assholes regardless of which party they vote for or give money to.

          2.  How much left wing voter suppression targeting right wing people have you seen in the last 40 years?  Answer, zero.

          3. Conservativism entails an anti-democratic moral stance.

            That’s not meant as trash talk, just a factual observation about what conservativism entails.  Which is knowing your place in the hierarchy and doing your duty without asking any annoying questions.

            No actual conservative would believe that human beings are capable of governing themselves.

          4. wysinwyg:
            Conservativism entails an anti-democratic moral stance

            Power entails an anti-democratic moral stance. I may have harped on this before, but check out The Iron Law of Institutions for more on this aspect of the American political condition.

            How much left wing voter suppression targeting right wing people have you seen in the last 40 years? Answer, zero.

            Not Breitbarty enough?

        1. Most sane people wouldn’t want to live in a pure democracy either. Well, ask the American blacks. Wonder what would have happened if that had been put to a pure popular vote back then. And gay marriage. And abortion. Hmmm. You sure you want “true” democracy? Maybe a representative republic with a bicameral legislature isn’t such an awful, oppressive thing.

      2. If we ignore Florida for a moment[*] but look at the 2000 presidential election, if 3606 people in New Hampshire who voted for Bush had voted for Gore instead [thus giving NH to Gore by 1 vote], that would have changed the electoral count from 271 Bush-266 Gore to 267 Bush – 270 Gore and given Gore the presidency. [Or caused the “faithless elector” from Washington DC to force the usage of the tiebreaking clause in the 12th amendment.]

        I don’t call a difference of less than 1% of the half a million votes cast in New Hampshire large-scale, but small changes can have very large impacts if done at the right time or in the right place.

        Data source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_results,_2000_%28detail%29

        [*] According to the FEC data on which the Wikipedia table was based, Florida’s margin of victory was just over 500 votes, or roughly 1/300 of the number of voters affected by this process. But I chose to ignore that difference for this analysis due to the controversy.

        1. Right, but the number of cases of actual voter fraud is WAY below your 1%.  So again, cost vs. benefits.  A campaign to stop voting fraud has large costs and no benefits.

          1. I’d suggest that to the republicans, it certainly has benefits, which is why the conservatives have done this in a number of states.

    3. Do you know any illegal immigrants? 

      Do you know any illegal immigrants who would jump at the increased chance of arrest and eventual deportation over the possibility of getting to cast a single irrelevant vote in a national election?

      The whole idea that there are masses of illegal immigrants casting hundreds of votes and swinging elections is a complete myth. In the past decade that this has been discussed, the right wing have only been able to find a tiny handful of cases of non-citizens voting.

      Are the 5 or 10 illegal votes that this might possibly prevent worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars spend and the hundreds of perfectly legal voters that these tactics unquestionably disenfranchise?

      And when you target one particular group for disenfranchisement, one that happens to vote pretty uniformly for the other party, do you really care about whether the people dropped off the list were really legal or illegal?

      1. and usually those they find are not aware that they are non-citizens. 

        If brought into the US a child and raised there, why would they think they were non-citizens as adults?

      2.  I live in a very Hispanic neighborhood of Dallas Texas. Asking if I know any illegal immigrants is allot like asking if I have neighbors.

        What you may not realize is that we have organizations like Lulac which are heavily populated by LaRaza and and Aztlan movements. I know, from personal experience, that non-documented workers quite often vote in our local elections. I can’t see a reason this would not take place in a national election.

        There is almost zero chance of being caught for voting illegally. There is no mechanism in place to prevent it. The reported numbers are meaningless. There is no way to know if a vote is legitimate or not without a voter ID system. In Texas, you simply fill out a form saying you are a citizen and that you have not been issued an ID or SSN. Put in an address of the area you want to cast your vote and mail it in. When voting day comes, you go to your chosen voting location, state your name, and vote. Anyone can do this. It’s not just undocumented and/or illegal immigrants who can benefit. Anyone wanting to swing an election can simply make up a few thousand fake (or real) names, register them all, and send people from voting location to voting location to place votes under those names.

        I can also tell you that, for the most part, the Hispanic vote is a largely block vote – just not a party vote. However, and to all the partisans – hispanics (in my area) tend to vote on issue and not along party lines. It’s the idea that Hispanics always vote democrat that seems to be the myth. Hispanics are not stupid, despite what the Republicans and Democrats believe as evidenced by the childish way in which the Hispanic vote is treated.

    4. Right, and one method is called a Motor Voter law, where voter registrations can happen at the DMV. The same people who are trying to kick this veteran off the rolls HATE motor voter laws because their goal isn’t to establish the credibility of the registration system, it’s to reduce the number of voters. It’s always a pure suppression tactic.

    5. No, it’s a bad idea and a colossal waste of time and money.  In examination of over 300,000,000 votes less than 90 were even charged with fraud.  Fewer were convicted. 
      Here is a list of things that are more likely than discovering a fraudulent voter:
      Odds of drowning in a bathtub: 685,000 to 1
      Odds of dating a supermodel: 88,000 to 1
      Odds of writing a New York Times best seller: 220 to 1
      Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1
      Odds that the pilot of your airliner is a convicted drunk driver: 117 to 1
      Odds of bowling a 300 game: 11,500 to 1
      Odds of dying from Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite/Sting 100,000 to 1 Odds of getting royal flush in poker with first five cards dealt: 649,740 to 1.
      Odds of winning an Academy Award: 11,500 to 1.
      Odds of being struck by lightning: 576,000 to 1
      Odds of actual death by lightning: 2,320,000 to 1
      Odds of being considered possessed by Satan: 7,000 to 1 

      Okay, I’m not sure about the Satan one, because it’s kind of subjective, but the rest are pretty convincing, no?

      1. No, it’s not a colossal waste of time or money, if you’re the Republican Party.  They “won” the 2000 election in Florida not only by controlling the vote counting and the Supreme Court, but by getting a lot of registered voters thrown off the rolls as alleged felons shortly before the election.  Surprisingly, the fraction of those people who were legitimately not eligible to vote was fairly small, and the fraction of those people who were likely to be voting Democrat was fairly high, and most of them found out they’d been bounced when they got to the polls, not back when they had time to fight the disqualification before the registration deadline.

        There really are much more effective ways to rig an election than the traditional approaches of giving whiskey to bums in exchange for their vote or sending them to vote in the names of now-dead registered voters.  (Of course, in Florida, the zombie population may be a bit more frisky than in Chicago.)

  3. The US military has non-citizens serve, though, so he’s lucky they took those papers.

  4. At the very heart of the American system of justice is the fact that you do NOT have to prove your innocence, they have to prove your guilt.  So this entire approach is backwards.  The voters do NOT have to prove they are citizens, the Registrar has to prove they are not.  The actions of the Governor of Florida are decidedly un-American.  Perhaps he should have to prove his citizenship?

    1.  Didn’t stop them in 2000, when they used a third-party service to identify a large number of “felons” who were ineligible to vote.  And the Supreme Court established in that election that nobody gets to tell Florida how to count their votes.

  5. I’ll bet that “possible noncitizens” file has a very high proportion of vowels for the final character.

  6. Serving in the US Military doesn’t mean you have US Citizenship – if fact, many current active duty military are not [yet] citizens and don’t have the right to vote.  The military has been filling the ranks with non-citizens with the promise of accelerated citizenship, kind of like what the Western Roman Empire did to fill the ranks of their armies with mercenaries. 

    1. Please find me a single veteran of the US armed forces in WWII who is not a US citizen.

  7. Right wing nutcases are awesome.  They love to scream “voter fraud!!” even though it basically does not exist in the USA in the way they claim.
    Although they loves them some republican-owned voting machines.

  8. so… why doesn’t the DHS help out?  the Florida Secretary of State has repeatedly asked for it to meet the governor’s mandate

    1. Well, I suppose we could ship the offenders to Kennebunkport and other places rife with such undesirables, but that would be un—

      Oh, you said DHS, didn’t you? I read that as DHL. My bad.

  9. They should also be demanding that DEAD voters establish their citizenship – or off the voter rolls they go!

  10. I have yet to understand why there is such fuss at proving you have the legal right to exercise the sovereign franchise  The most important power we have in our Republic.

    If a person came up to you and claimed he had a concealed weapons permit, you might wish to actually see it.  if someone drove but refused to provide a driver’s license when required, you would not think them a brave proponent of freedom.

    1. How do you fail to understand?

      BTW your analogies are terrible. 

      A person “came up to you” and claimed they had a thing. So what? You still have no right to demand presentation of that thing. If that thing is a concealed carry permit, you have no right or authority to demand it unless you are a registered peace officer. A registered peace officer has the authority, which is not a right. The registered peace officer has no authority to demand presentation of that permit unless the officer has reason to believe a weapon is on your person. If the officer witnesses you have a weapon without you “came up to him” and started talking about your permit, then you have made a mistake and exposed a weapon, which if shown to be egregious or negligent can cost you your concealed carry permit and cause your weapon to be confiscated. Thee officer may demand you present this permit and compel you to reveal whether or not you have a concealed weapon, and where, and whether or not it is loaded if you “came up to you” and started talking about your permit, as in some circumstance that could be considered odd behaviour, prompting investigation. In any case, if you follow the conditions of a carry permit, no one can demand your permit, and a registered peace officer can only do so with cause. Various differences in different states, but “Papers Please” is un-American.

      “If someone drove but refused to provide a driver’s license” the expectation of that being a problem is that the driver in question is being asked by a registered peace officer who has a legitimate reason for asking. Again, “Papers please” is un-American, and if you asked for my license you’re damn right I am a brave proponent of freedom when I tell you to fuck yourself. 

      As in the first post, the onus of proving an accusation is on the accuser, not on the accused. Your “Papers please” outlook is silly commie shlock dressed up in fake patriot vomit by people who believe in the boogeyman and prefer others live in fear as well.

      1. Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard for criminal law. Do you think it automatically applies to everything? Ask the judge that issues a PFA from the bench. Ask people who cannot carry a concealed weapon in “may issue” states.

        Let us say that someone is not legally a resident of this country. How would a government go about proving such? It’s an impossible bar. To the government, the only “proof” of citizenship that they require is that you’re not listed in the appropriate database/records system. You want the franchise? Get in the system.

        You may not like the outcomes or implication based on your social point of view or your desired political outcomes, but you won’t be allowed to play ball if you’re not in the club.

        1. You want the franchise? Get in the system.

          That’s painfully close to only allowing property owners to vote.

          1.  @Antinous_Moderator:disqus 
            That’s painfully close to FUD. Proving you are a citizen is not at all like allowing only land owners to vote. There is no equivalency.
            How do you prove a negative? How do you prove someone is not a citizen if they haven’t and are not required to provide documentation? Do we just assume everyone is a US citizen until someone provides proof that they are not? Or, do we take a reasonable approach and ask those who wish to vote to provide proof of citizenship?

          2. That’s painfully close to FUD. Proving you are a citizen is not at all like allowing only land owners to vote.

            Are driver’s licenses free? Are copies of birth certificates free? Is there free housing so that you can provide an address? These are all financial barriers to allowing the poor to participate in the electoral system.

          3. “Are driver’s licenses free? Are copies of birth certificates free?”
            I’m glad you asked. Those with valid ID’s already are covered. We don’t need to worry about them. So, what is left is the population who cannot afford to obtain documentation. I would propose that we provide these documents to these folk much the same way our tax dollars provide other services to those in need. This wouldn’t be something you have to pay for each year so the cost should be workable.

            “Is there free housing so that you can provide an address?”
            General delivery is available at any post office. But, I would say that whatever state employee/office that processes the voter registration could receive the documentation needed and provide the ID back to the person. No physical address should be needed. In fact, I would discourage the use of addresses, SSN, or any other information other than name, state of residence, and a photo.

            The financial barriers are mostly imagined. We have about 50 mil living in poverty in the US. We can process a drivers license for less than $20. If we supply these voter IDs to those in poverty for free every 10 years, we are talking about a national budget increase of $100 mill per year. Or, $2 million per year per state. With a $3.6 trillion per year federal budget, I think we can find the cash to cover the expense.

            Finally, and this is critical, we would only need to provide voter IDs to those who register to vote (currently about 65% of citizens are registered). If that percentage stays consistent -and I believe it’s lower – then we are talking about 32 million we need to get ID’s to) And that, Antinous, is a rather small percentage of the population and a workable cost.

          4. Finally, and this is critical, we would only need to provide voter IDs to those who register to vote (currently about 65% of citizens are registered). If that percentage stays consistent -and I believe it’s lower – then we are talking about 32 million we need to get ID’s to) And that, Antinous, is a rather small percentage of the population and a workable cost.

            First of all, motor voter was the best idea that anyone’s come up with to get people to register. Rather than providing IDs to registered voters, we should provide free IDs so that people will come in and register to vote when they get that ID. The only objection to that is if you don’t want people to register and vote. Second, 32 million is a small percentage of the population? Gore and Bush were within a half million votes in 2000.

          5.  “we should provide free IDs”
            No argument there. I’m glad you agree. Where we differ on that point is that I don’t think it’s necessary to provide a free ID to people who already have a valid state issued ID.

            “32 million is a small percentage of the population? Gore and Bush were within a half million votes in 2000”
            We aren’t talking election numbers here Antinous. We are talking population totals and the potential number of persons who cannot afford to obtain the documentation necessary to get an ID and the costs involved in providing the same. The problem with the motor voter laws is the burden placed on the indigent and the fact that it pretty much limits your voters to drivers. Giving away a free ID is a fine idea but you still have the burden on the indigent that needs to be addressed.

        2. I didn’t mention criminal law and no I don’t, sorry you were confused about that, let me re-phrase it according to my critique of his terrible analogies.

          Registered voters as it stands may be challenged by government but in this instance people are taking umbrage because the manner too strongly implies a political intent that makes the challenge illegitimate, and thus an illegitimate & illegal attempt to disenfranchise a citizen. Especially ignoring the Voting Rights Act.

          If a polling official on the ground at a station only challenged predominantly Hispanic or persons the official knew or thought would vote a certain way, would you stand there and chuckle at the indignation of the voter just because they were able to prove themselves and vote? I didn’t think so. This is precisely the same on a grand scale.

          The onus I mean is on the accuser to do so legitimately, whether the accusation would stand or not is beside the point.

  11. As near as I can determine the reason he was flagged as not a citizen is that the state
    drivers’ license records list him as such. He has since provided the county with verification that he is a citizen and therefore will be able to vote. The most informative article I found online is at http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2012/05/broward-elections-supervisor-says-voter-rolls-are-clean.html.  It took me less than five minutes to find this information online.  If the reporter was more interest in reporting the news than inflaming opinion he/she could’ve done the same.

    1.  You might have a point if the Republican party didn’t have already have a long, storied history of voter suppression.

    2. If the gentleman had renewed his license prior to 2010 there is no hope that that is the case, as such information was not collected. If he renewed since 2010, he was required to provide proof of status at that time. If he used a convenience method to renew he was required to appear at a DMV with proof of status/citizenship ID before it would be issued. 

      Yes, that policy does make the word convenience mean fake-convenience-why-don’t-I-just-renew-in-person-it-is-faster.

      Back on point, those lists are not potential non-citizens any more than a complete list of all persons who had or have a license prior to 2010 or have not renewed since prior to 2010. That list is many millions of people. 

      So their method is totally flawed, yet somehow they procured a much shorter list of mostly hispanic and Democrat voters with a large number of un-updated addresses among these, to send letters demanding proof of citizenship to. 

      And doing what they are doing at this time, with unapproved, and decidedly flawed methodology, is a dual violation of the Voting Rights Act.

      I understand how you wouldn’t want anyone to concern themselves with that, especially a vet who got caught up in a voter suppression campaign. 

      There is no hope that these actions are not willful on the part of Florida officials. They’ve even been called out, yet they continue.

      Nothing to see here folks, because it was all a big mistake and none of this should concern you because you are being needlessly inflamed by a biased sumbitch who could not have possibly learned anything more than 5 minutes of Google by me!

  12. The only voter fraud in the U.S. is the fraud perpetrated on voters by political advertising.  

    1.  You don’t remember the 2000 and 2004 elections well, do you?  At least when Tammany Hall paid you a bottle of whiskey for your vote, you were getting something tangible (or even better, demanded your vote in return for a patronage job.) 

      But when the brand new shiny complex voting machines don’t have all the parts to work on election day (in the inner-city neighborhoods) but work just fine out in the white suburbs, or when you get to the polls and find you’ve been stricken from the rolls as an alleged felon, by some third-party contractor, you’ve met the quieter but more efficient Republican flavors of voter fraud.

      1.  And you think purging rolls will solve problems like vote-count fraud?  Not me, coach.

  13. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that a 91 year old veteran probably voted for Rick Scott last time.

    Well played, sir!

  14. Why is this more of an insult to WWII vets than other people? Are veterans some kind of super citizens?

    1. You’re right. We should only publish theoretical stories about non-specific people named Jane Doe, who have never done anything.

    2. Because when stories about people who aren’t WWII vets getting disenfranchised come out– and there have been a lot of them this year– the mouth-breathing wing of the Republican Party gets all ‘durrr, they shouldn’t get to vote anyways, hur hur hur.”

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