Monday, May 28, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: New effort to clean up voter rolls needs close eye

The mea culpa state tour by Secretary of State Ken Detzner is a hopeful sign that this time the Scott administration's effort to remove noncitizens from Florida's voter rolls will be more responsible. Last year's disastrous attempt at removing noncitizens from the rolls produced a flawed list that included a disproportionate share of minorities and residents who were legal voters. Now Detzner promises an improved approach will ensure that no voter will come under suspicion without solid evidence. That's good, but Florida's local supervisors of election should remain on their guard to protect the rights of every voter.

The change in tone as Detzner travels the state to accept responsibility for last year's debacle could win converts to "Project Integrity," his improved system for identifying noncitizen voters. He says this time the process will be "credible and reliable" because the state can determine citizenship status by culling data from SAVE, which stands for Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements and is a federal database of immigration records commonly used to help determine eligibility for public benefits. It isn't clear how quickly the system is updated to reflect newly naturalized citizens, so Detnzer's office will cross-check information using secondary sources possibly including lists of new citizens issued after naturalization ceremonies.

Last year, Florida's Department of State identified 182,000 suspected noncitizens on the voter rolls and more than half were minorities. Targets were found by comparing state driver's license data, which includes some citizenship data, to voter rolls. Eventually the list was whittled down to 198, but the state's 67 election supervisors shut down the effort when legitimate voters, many with Hispanic-sounding names, were caught in the purge.

Florida is rightly gun-shy over voter purges. There was too much similarity between the effort in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election and the felons' list mess during Gov. Jeb Bush's administration. Before the 2000 election, the state relied on a highly flawed list of excluded felons that ended up dropping at least 1,100 eligible voters from the rolls. Florida has still not recovered from that black eye.

The state has an interest in ensuring only American citizens vote, but that can't be an excuse to harass voters with ethnic surnames. Detzner promises that before any names of suspected noncitizens are sent to elections supervisors they will be vetted by a state employee. Elections supervisors will also receive backup documentation to show the basis for the suspicion.

While this is a significant improvement, there still will be issues. Detzner should have a designated expert available to answer any naturalization and citizenship questions from elections supervisors. Considering the mess that was made during the attempt last year, elections supervisors should tread carefully until the new system is proven to be as accurate as promised.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scott’s clemency process isn’t just archaic and cruel — it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18