Greer case spotlights Florida's challenges in voter database 'purge'

Published Sept. 11, 2013

Gov. Rick Scott's administration will soon launch a new statewide hunt for suspected noncitizens on the voter roll, a process that last year led to lawsuits and lots of frustration in county elections offices because of a flawed "purge list." But if the state wants a clean roll, it might find out why it takes so long for a voter to be removed after a felony conviction.

Case in point: Jim Greer, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida who pleaded guilty Feb. 11 to five counts of grand theft and money laundering. Greer was still listed as a registered voter until last week, when Buzz started asking questions. Now there was no election for Greer to vote in and no chance of him obtaining a ballot at the Gulf Forestry Camp near Port St. Joe, where he's serving an 18-month sentence. The question is the reliability of the state voter database.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel said he was still waiting for the state Division of Elections to send the paperwork necessary to initiate removal, including a certified copy of Greer's guilty plea and other documents.

"Good question," Ertel said when we asked him why Greer was still on the roll more than six months after he pleaded guilty. "We … are beginning the process of removal."

Rubio book deal

Sen. Marco Rubio has a deal to write a book on the future of the GOP, according to his publisher.

"There's no confirmed publication date yet, but the book is likely to appear in the fall of 2014. It's about the future of the country and the future of the Republican Party," said Will Weisser, associate publisher with Sentinel/Penguin Group.

The book, not yet titled, was first reported by The Hill newspaper. Last year, Rubio wrote An American Son, a memoir covering his childhood through the U.S. Senate campaign. He earned $800,000 from it in 2012, his financial disclosure showed.

Plight of the poor

House Speaker Will Weatherford offered sympathetic points about people facing generational poverty Wednesday, saying it's harder than ever for Americans to lift themselves off society's bottom rung.

But Weatherford remains as unconvinced as ever that accepting federal money to provide the state's poorest residents with Medicaid coverage is a way to help them live a better life.

"Medicaid has been proven to be one of the worst forms of insurance you can get in America," he told about 100 people Wednesday at a meeting of Suncoast Tiger Bay. "Nobody in here wants to be on Medicaid."

Florida should instead increase its investments in education, he said, which will help people find jobs that will share the cost of their health coverage.

Times staff writers Alex Leary and Katie Sanders contributed to this week's Buzz.