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Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012 5 years ago

My View: Clean voter rolls protect your vote

by: Rod Thomson

What is it about making sure only legal voters vote that makes liberals’ hair catch fire? Why do they so intensely want it otherwise?

In a perfect world — and politics is about as far from that as it gets — but in a perfect world, all Americans would want only other registered American voters to cast votes for our leaders. We could fight and scrap over ideas, policies, personalities, foibles, personal wealth, skeletons in closets and so on. But we’d want Americans selecting American leaders.

But that is clearly not the case, and it is nowhere more clear than in the reactions to Gov. Rick Scott’s — and Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent’s — responsible attempts to weed out the illegal voters. The action is commonly reported as “purging” the voter list. That word makes it sound sinister.

Scott started the process last year, but he was stonewalled by the Obama administration’s refusal to release the federal database of resident non-citizens to make sure they are not voting.

Now that we are only a few months from the national elections, there are charges of politics in the “timing” of Scott’s voter “purge.” But the timing is wholly the result of the federal government’s refusal to cooperate for a year. If there were politics being played, it wasn’t by Scott but by someone who is a far superior politician.

And Dent tried to clean up the county’s voting list earlier this year by comparing the registered voter list to the jury list of people who recused themselves from jury duty by checking the box claiming they are not American citizens. Makes perfect sense. There were only 12. Only one has admitted not being a citizen. The others checked the wrong box — apparently by mistake, although let’s face it, few of us want jury duty. Five were put back on the voting list after proving citizenship and the seven never responded to requests for proof.

Now these actions seem like the legitimate, responsible work of people in charge of elections. Part of the sacredness of the vote is that only Americans get to — or that is supposed to be the case.

Democrats argue that this cleansing of the rolls disenfranchises minorities because more of them are supposedly affected. But they make the same argument against voters showing IDs to prove who they are. Again basic common sense, but again opposed.

The purists contend that if even one vote is disenfranchised, it is not worth it. Which is exactly why we need to guard the right so carefully. What is a right to vote about if anyone can show up and vote claiming to be whoever might be on the voter list, which may or may not be accurate?

Here is the little secret that detractors will never bring up: Every illegal vote disenfranchises a legal vote. If someone casts a vote and he is not a legal voter, he cancels out your legal vote. It is as if you never voted. You are disenfranchised., a major Democrat backer, sent out a fundraising letter saying:

“Republican Gov. Rick Scott tried to kick 180,000 people off the voter rolls in his state and is now suing the Department of Justice after it stepped in to stop him. Rick Scott’s racist voter purge — which directly targets Latino voters — is so egregious that every one of the 67 supervisors of elections in the state — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — has so far refused to carry it out.”

You see the hyperbole? It is used to raise funds because it riles up the liberal base.

But even the Tampa Bay Times’ PolitiFact — not exactly an ally of Scott — found this claim scurrilous: “The 180,000 was the state’s starting point for gathering data on potential non-citizens. But the state forwarded less than 2% of that list — about 2,600 — to the counties for further review.”

Even then, it would still be up to the counties to review the 2,600 against their data. This is a reasonable process with multiple levels of checks.

So the question remains: Why do these liberal groups and the Democrats they support fight so hard against every attempt to make sure only Americans are voting? Why do they apparently want illegals voting, knowing that disenfranchises legal votes?

Rod Thomson can be reached at [email protected].

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