Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Why Won’t Florida Let Eligible Voters Vote?

By EOM Staff

In 1998, Florida felt the need to start purging its voter rolls of felons.  Felons are prohibited from voting in Florida.  A company named DBT was contracted for this service at a fee of $2,317,800, replacing a company that had previously done it for $5,700.

When the purge began, Florida specified exact matches on names, birth dates and gender to identify voters as felons.  However, Emmett (Bucky) Mitchell, a lawyer for the State Elections Office who was supervising the purge, requested that DBT loosen its criteria for acceptable matches.  DBT representatives warned Mitchell that this would yield a large proportion of false positives (mismatches).  Mitchell believed that it would be up to each county elections supervisor to deal with this problem, even though the State Elections Office would oversee the process.

In February 2000, DBT Vice-President James Lee said that the state “wanted there to be more names than were actually verified as being a convicted felon.”  In Apri 2000, he said that the state had given DBT the directive to “add to the purge list people who matched at least 90% of a last name.”  DBT objected, stating again that this would result in even higher numbers of false positives.  The state responded by ordering a shift to an even lower threshold of an 80% match, allowing names to be reversed (someone named Thomas Scott could be taken to be the same person as someone named Scott Thomas).  Additionally, middle initials were deleted, the suffixes Jr. and Sr. were dropped and some nicknames and aliases were added, all to increase the number of ineligible voters on the list.

Mr. Lee again told state officials that the rules for creating the purge list would mean a significant number of people who were not deceased, not registered in more than one county, or not a felon, would be included on this list.  He made suggestions to reduce the numbers of people on the list who were actually eligible to vote, but was told “forget about it”.

The first list provided to the Divsion of Elections in April 2000, contained the names of 181,157 persons (supposed felons).  Only half were later identified as actual felons.

Here are some of the errors:

Thomas Cooper, DOB 9/5/73, crime – unknown.  Conviction date January 30, 2007 (on a list developed in April, 2000)!

Johnny Jackson Jr., DOB 1970, crime – unknown.  Mistaken for John Fitzgerald Jackson who was in jail in Texas at the time.

Wallace McDonald, DOB 1928, crime – fell asleep on a bus stop bench in 1959 and prohibited from voting 41 years later!

Randall J. Higgenbotham, DOB 8/28/60, crime – none.  Mistaken for Sean David Higginbotham, DOB 6/16/71.  First and middle names don’t match and dates of birth don’t match.

According to research done by the Palm Beach Post, a major problem with the purge list is that blacks accounted for 88% of those removed from the voter rolls.  However, at the time, blacks made up only 11% of Florida registered voters.

Demographically, blacks tend to vote for Democrats.  Remember, this was a hotly contested state in the 2000 election.  And remember this – George W. Bush won that presidential election by just 537 votes.

I wonder how many votes Al Gore would have won by if people who were actually eligible to vote hadn’t been denied that opportunity.

The state of Florida stole the election from Al Gore.  And now they are trying to steal the election from President Obama.

Stay tuned – we’ll have more on Florida’s latest voter purge (against “non-citizens” who are actually citizens).

As a side note – DBT will no longer be involved in purging voter rolls!

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