Florida Secretary of State Talks Upcoming Voter Purge In Sarasota

Oct 8, 2013

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU


The state’s voter purge tour made a stop in Sarasota Tuesday. Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner has been traveling around the state in the past few days.

He’s been sitting down with local election supervisors to go over the state’s second attempt to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls.

Detzner said in a state like Florida, which has a lot of immigration, double checking the legitimacy of voter registration is important.

“After the election of 2000, Florida was challenged to take a leadership role in election reform and we have followed every year since then to try to improve the process, to change with the needs of the voters and this removal of non-citizens off the voter rolls is just one more part of that process,” he said.

Detzner spent much of the meeting explaining the state’s new system of vetting and removing alleged non-citizens, which relies on a recently obtained immigration database from the federal government.

Last year, state officials were heavily criticized for circulating a list of suspected non-citizens rife with errors. Local election supervisors eventually stopped the voter purge themselves after news spread that many of the people on the state’s list were indeed citizens.

Detzner says he accepts responsibility for the deficiencies in the old system, but says he’s confident voters will be pleased with the new one.

Lee County’s Supervisor, Sharon Harrington, was among the relatively small group of local election officials that attended the meeting in Sarasota. She said she has confidence in the new process.

“Well, I am even feeling better about it right now because the secretary of state and the division of elections are taking the time to meet with all of us to make sure that whatever process they put in place is going to be workable for us,” Harrington said.

Local supervisors from counties with larger minority populations, however, have said they are still concerned.