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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Few hits in Gov. Rick Scott's push to purge noncitizens from voter rolls, but here's one



Luis Ortega, 29, of Tampa, is the kind of person Gov. Rick Scott has been targeting.

He is not a U.S. citizen.

And he has voted in a Florida election.

Ortega's name was included among 2,625 suspected noncitizens on the now-famous voter purge list. Though discredited by county election supervisors, the list remains a topic of intense partisan debate and subject of a legal fight between Florida and the federal government.

Scott says he's determined to preserve the integrity of the voting process by eliminating noncitizens from the rolls.

So far, Ortega is the only noncitizen in the Tampa Bay area who is known to have cast a vote. And just a handful have done so across the state, according to a Times/Herald review of voter information from Florida's largest counties.

As local elections supervisors suspend county-by-county searches for noncitizens, calling the state's data defective, Scott defends them as necessary to the effort to rid the rolls of noncitizens. To do it, he points to people such as Ortega, who moved to Florida from Ecuador at age 10 and runs a small Tampa business providing technology services to businesses.

"Florida elections officials have an obligation to protect the right of eligible voters to cast a ballot," Scott says on a state website explaining his efforts. "And that includes preventing noncitizens from participating in an election."

But critics of the purge say the rarity of Ortega's situation proves that the risk of prison time is enough to discourage noncitizens from voting.

Story here.

[Last modified: Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:17am]


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