Florida Governor Rick Scott has had to defend an attempted voter purge against warnings that the process is riddled with errors -- the kind of error that nearly cost Scott his right vote in 2006.
Reuters reports that Scott, a Republican, had to cast a provisional ballot, because county election officials mistakenly thought he was dead. The confusion arose because Scott shares a birthday with a deceased man whose full name was also Richard Scott.
The mix-up highlights some of the risks as Scott forges ahead with a disputed push to purge the state's voter rolls of ineligible immigrants. He has defended the undertaking as an effort to prevent voting fraud, but skeptical county supervisors have already discovered numerous instances in which allegedly invalid voters on lists provided by Florida were in fact U.S. citizens.
Critics are urging Scott to halt the purge, saying bureaucratic errors could improperly strip eligible Floridians of their right to vote. The 2000 presidential election was marred by a similar debacle when an attempt to knock felons from the rolls led to thousands being disenfranchised.
Some of the inaccuracies county supervisors have found this time around are similar to Scott's 2006 experience: eligible voters being confused with immigrants who have similar names or birth dates. In other cases, the issue has been outdated information, with immigrants who have become naturalized citizens still being listed as unable to vote.
Conversely, supervisors say that bureaucratic oversights, not a desire to commit fraud, are often responsible for ineligible immigrants finding their way onto the rolls. For example, immigrants can be mistakenly registered to vote when they apply for drivers' licenses. In such cases, supervisors say, immigrants are usually not even aware they have been registered.
Scott's determination to pursue the purge has sparked a standoff with the federal government. The Department of Justice sued Florida after Scott refused to suspend the process, saying the state is violating the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.