There was a lot of talk about dodgy election practices in Florida, and some argue that Al Gore might have beaten George Bush had a full recount been done. However, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped partial recounts, and that controversy is water under the bridge.
A much-less-discussed issue in that election was purging people deemed ineligible to vote from the rolls. The purging was contracted to a private company, ChoicePoint, who is a major aggregator of public information, including data once held by the FBI that the FBI was forced to remove from its files because there was no current investigation or criminal activity relating to it. ChoicePoint, now owned by Reed Elsevier, was used by the Obama administration to perform criminal background checks for prospective employees. ChoicePoint also owns VitalChek, the principal online outlet for ordering birth certificates.
A friend of mine, who is a nationally-recognized expert in record matching, was critical of the Florida process that he explained was biased against people who demographically tended to vote Democratic. One of the classes excluded from the rolls were convicted felons. The story goes1 the matching rules were loose and resulted in many false matches between real felons and innocent voters with similar names. Poor and minority voters were less-likely to be able to understand and challenge their disenfranchisement.
That’s water under the bridge too, except that Florida is again in the process of purging the rolls of voters that it believes based on matching rules are convicted felons or non-citizens. According to the Daily KOS, who sent me an email about it, 2,600 voters, “the vast majority of whom are Latinos, Democrats and independents,” including one World War II Bronze Star winner who was born in Brooklyn but was deemed a non-citizen, have received letters notifying them that unless they provide proof of eligibility at a hearing before the State Supervisor of elections, they can’t vote.
My view is that the a state should not remove anybody from the voting rolls without an individualized investigation of that person and a showing before an independent judicial body that they are ineligible.
The US Department of Justice has ordered Florida to stop the voter removal which is not in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
In a related story, “zombie apocalypse” is now the number-three most popular search term on Google, despite an official announcement this week from the US Centers for Disease Control that zombies do not exist. The outbreak of zombie angst may be the result of the appearance of this image of Florida Governor Rick Scott on the Internet and reports of a cannibal attack in Miami:
1Journalist Greg Palast, who consulted my friend, was in the forefront of the 2000 ChoicePoint conspiracy story. It is written up in the Wikipedia article on Palast. There is also a documentary film, Florida Fights Back.