Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Opinion

Romano: With voter purge, Rick Scott has become what he campaigned against

He was right, you know.

The governor was dead-on when it came to illegal voters and a government crackdown.

It was all justifiable, and completely defensible. Gov. Rick Scott even sounded admirable when he urged officials to go after noncitizens on the state's voter rolls.

That lasted about 10 minutes.

The admirable part, that is.

Since then, Scott has fallen farther and farther down the rabbit hole. His fixation on an imaginary epidemic has made him look silly, vindictive and shamelessly partisan.

In the process, he has become that which he once mocked.

If you do not agree, spend a few minutes thinking about gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. He was the businessman who was not going to play political games.

He talked about not wasting a single taxpayer dollar. He talked about not continuing to do something over and over when it has been proved ineffective.

He talked about tort reform, reducing the government's reach and bringing accountability to Tallahassee. If you don't recall, it's all there in the campaign sound bites.

So why is Scott now wasting taxpayer dollars on lawsuits? Why he is on a crusade that looks flawed, unconstitutional and comically insignificant?

Why is he obsessed with an issue that may sound legitimate but has proved to be more of a bogeyman than a serious threat?

This state still has serious problems. Scott hasn't come through on his job creation boasts, no matter how many 7-Eleven openings he attends. Education funding is a problem. Health care is an issue. Tax reform is on the agenda.

And yet Scott is wasting valuable time pushing a voter purge that is statistically inconsequential compared to just about every other problem on the state To-Do list.

Now Scott swears this is not a partisan issue. And I would honestly like to believe that, but it looks more and more suspicious when a Republican-controlled Legislature attacks voter registration at the same time Scott refuses to ease off on the purge.

And the sad part of all of this? Scott could have put the onus on Democrats if he had just taken the high ground.

If he had simply introduced the idea of the noncitizen purge, and then hammered away at Homeland Security for refusing to share its database, then it would have looked like the Obama administration was the one playing games in an election year.

Instead, by going on offense, refusing to give up on a flawed plan and defying federal laws, Scott has opened himself up to charges of partisan shenanigans.

And for what?

A few dozen illegal ballots in a state with more than 11 million registered voters?

Yes, in theory, we should pursue every illegally registered voter in the state. That's absolutely accurate. No argument necessary.

But we should not be strong-arming local election supervisors who have been strongly opposed to this government intrusion. And we should not be wasting an abundance of money forcing legitimate U.S. citizens to prove they have the right to vote.

Because all of that is diametrically opposed to Scott's professed philosophy.

Which means our governor is failing to follow through on his promise of a more efficient, less politically motivated administration.

Now that sounds like voter fraud.

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