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Secretary of State Ken Detzner Announces New Initiative to Remove Non-citizens from Florida Voter Rolls

New initiative to be instrumental in efforts to ensure accuracy of Florida’s voter rolls

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced the Florida Department of State is partnering with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to identify non-citizens who are currently on Florida’s voter rolls. The new initiative is already proving to be successful. Florida’s Department of State recently sent the information of more than 2,600 potential non-citizens to Florida’s 67 Supervisors of Elections for review and, if warranted, removal from Florida’s voter rolls.

“Our partnership with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will be instrumental in our efforts to ensure the accuracy of Florida’s voter rolls, not only this year but in the years to follow,” said Secretary Detzner. “Florida voters need to know only eligible citizens can cast a ballot and we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that is the case.”

The Florida Department of State (DOS) and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) began working together to develop a way to identify non-citizens in early 2011. The initiative began following a credentialing project led by DHSMV which informed DOS of the potential to identify non-citizens in DHSMV’s database, which requires anyone getting a new driver’s license or renewing a driver’s license or state ID card to submit documentary proof of his or her legal status.

“We are pleased to be working with the Florida Department of State and local supervisors of elections to provide access to information necessary to identify non-citizens who have registered to vote,” said Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Julie Jones. “While legal non-citizens have the right to a driver license, they don’t have the right to vote.”

When DOS receives information from DHSMV indicating that a registered voter may not be a United States citizen, DOS conducts an initial investigation to determine whether the information identifying a voter as potentially ineligible is credible and reliable. This preliminary investigation includes a cross-reference of all files against the Comprehensive Case Information System, DHSMV, Department of Corrections, Florida Parole Commission and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) databases in order to assist supervisors of elections in the removal process by providing the most accurate documentation available. Additionally, DOS is actively seeking access to federal Department of Homeland Security databases such as SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) for further verification of immigration status.

If the preliminary investigation by DOS concludes, to the extent possible, that a registered voter may not be a United States citizen, DOS will provide the information and any relevant documents to the appropriate supervisor of elections to initiate the statutory notice and removal process provided in section 98.075(7), F.S.

The first search preliminarily identified more than 1,200 registered voters who are non-citizens classified as legal visitors. These individuals are generally in the United States for a limited time and purpose and who are highly unlikely, based on immigration laws, to have obtained citizenship status since their last interaction with DHSMV. Since that time, more than 1,400 additional potential non-citizens have been identified and more are expected to be identified in the next few months.

The Voter Removal Process

A person who willfully submits false voter registration information, including false information regarding citizenship status, commits a third degree felony. When a supervisor of elections receives information from DOS that a registered voter is a potential non-citizen, the supervisor must begin the statutory notice and removal process. Potential non-citizens will be provided an explanation of the basis for their potential ineligibility and an opportunity to request a hearing to dispute the determination of potential ineligibility.