Marc Caputo and Steve Bousquet, Miami Herald, May 9, 2012
Nearly 2,700 potential non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote in Florida and some could have been unlawfully casting ballots for years, according to a Miami Herald-CBS4 analysis of elections data.
The bulk of the potential non-citizen voters are in Florida’s largest county, Miami-Dade, where the elections supervisor is combing through a list of nearly 2,000 names and contacting them.
An analysis of a partial list of 350 names in Miami-Dade showed that about 104 have cast ballots going as far back as 1996.
Even if voters are on the list, it doesn’t mean they’re not eligible to cast a ballot.
Consider the case of Miami’s Maria Ginorio, a 64-year-old from Cuba, who said she became a U.S. citizen in August 2009. She said she was angered by a letter she received asking her to go to the elections office to document her status. Ginorio, who said she typically votes by absentee ballot, is ill and homebound.
Citizens like Ginorio were flagged as potentially ineligible after the state’s Division of Elections compared its database with a database maintained by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which records whether a newly licensed driver is a U.S. citizen.
As a result, some citizens could appear to be non citizens now because the DHSMV computer system doesn’t automatically update when someone becomes a citizen, said Chris Cate, a spokesman with the Florida Division of Elections.
Christina White, a deputy Miami-Dade elections supervisor, said the county is sending out letters to all potential non voters within 30 days and is asking them to prove citizenship.
The state’s effort to clean the voter rolls are unfolding in a presidential election year in which perceptions of voting problems and potential fraud break down along partisan lines — especially after the Republican-led Legislature last year cracked down on voting registration groups and early voting on the Sunday before Election Day.
To be eligible to cast a ballot in Florida, a voter must be a state resident and a U.S. citizen with no felony record. Those who have been convicted of felonies can cast ballots if their rights have been restored by the state. It’s a third-degree felony to commit voter fraud in Florida.