Oh Cheney you, Jeb Bush
It's a mixed bag in this article from the NY Times. Yes, it's good news that Florida has decided to ditch its much derided (and rightly so) voter scrub list Vol. 2. This one, like the now infamous 2000 list, was full of errors that took away the voting rights of tens of thousands of Florida voters almost 4 years ago and made the Florida election close enough and contentious enough that 5 folks in black robes in Washington were able to give us King George the Lesser. From the article:
The purge of felons from voter rolls has been a thorny issue since the 2000 presidential election. A private company hired to identify ineligible voters before the election produced a list with scores of errors, and elections supervisors used it to remove voters without verifying its accuracy. A federal lawsuit led to an agreement to restore rights to thousands of voters.Notice that the article doesn't mention how many people on the list weren't felons. Last time around, Greg Palast argued that there were close to a hundred thousand incorrect names on the list.
The new list was released July 1, with officials saying Gov. Bush's administration was simply complying with federal election law. Problems with the list were quickly detected.
State officials have said there are people on the list who are not felons, and elections workers have flagged more than 300 people listed who might have received clemency.
Another problem was that about 2,700 people who had received clemency were still on the list. That was because they had registered to vote before they received clemency. The state initially required them to register again, but later backed off.
But even if we assume that the state of Florida completely fixed that problem--even though they've admitted they didn't, just play along with me--there's still the matter of those 3,000 people we know about who were going to be stripped of their right to vote in the election had this list not been pulled.
Too bad that's not the reason they pulled the list.
Florida elections officials said Saturday they will not use a disputed list that was designed to keep felons from voting, acknowledging a flaw that could have allowed convicted Hispanic felons to cast ballots in November.They pulled the list because it didn't kick enough people off the rolls. They never acknowledged that the list itself was flawed in such a way that it caught people with names similar to those of felons, but they pull the list because it might not catch enough Hispanics.
The state of Florida has the right to keep felons that they convict from voting if they wish. I disagree with them, but it's their right. But any system that deals with the most sacred of any right that Americans hold has to err on the side of the voter's ability to cast his or her vote. To rip off another old saw, it's better that ten felons be allowed to vote than one innocent person be denied his or her vote. Florida ought to be looking for ways to get voter interest up rather than looking for ways to keep participation down.