Florida Governor Rick Scott is okay with removing thousands of names from the voting rolls in his state, because his name was once removed from that same because Florida thought he was dead. Scott told a story during several interviews yesterday of a time when he went to cast his ballot in 2006 and was told by poll workers that their records listed him as deceased. (Apparently, there was another Richard Scott with the exact same birthday who had passed way.)
For Scott, however, the story is not a cautionary tale about real citizens accidentally being denied the right to vote, but proof that his system works. Scott was allowed to vote on a provisional ballot on two different occasions and in both instances his vote was properly counted.
So on the one hand, he does have a point: Getting thrown of the voting rolls isn't the end of the world. If you can prove you are who you say you are and that you actually belong the list you'll still get to exercise your rights. You also have to understand the rules of provisional ballots and hope that yours doesn't get rejected on some other technicality.
On the other hand, his story also proves how easy it is for a perfectly legal voter to get kicked off the registration rolls and turned away at the door. That's part of the reason why the Justice Department is suing the state to stop its aggressive purge of their voter database. (Florida is counter-suing the feds as well.) It will certainly eliminate many dead and non-citizen voters from the list, but will also likely ensnare thousands more voters who are actually eligible, since the data the state is using to flag potential voters is often inaccurate or out of date. That creates the potential for thousands of Rick Scotts showing up on election day and being denied the chance to cast a ballot. And not all of them will know about provisional ballots or be told that they can cast them.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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