Saturday, July 10, 2004

[US Politics] NYT- Florida List for Purge of Voters Proves Flawed:

Florida election officials used a flawed method to come up with a listing of people believed to be convicted felons, a list that they are recommending be used to purge voter registration rolls, state officials acknowledged yesterday. As a result, voters identifying themselves as Hispanic are almost completely absent from that list.

Of nearly 48,000 Florida residents on the felon list, only 61 are Hispanic. By contrast, more than 22,000 are African-American.
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In a presidential-election battleground state that decided the 2000 race by giving George W. Bush a margin of only 537 votes, the effect could be significant: black voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, while Hispanics in Florida tend to vote Republican.
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The paucity of Hispanic voters on the felon list was first reported Wednesday, by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but officials said then that the problem was not systematic. After The New York Times examined the data, state officials acknowledged that the method for matching lists of felons to those of voters automatically exempted all felons who identified themselves as Hispanic.

Hispanic Republicans outnumber Hispanic Democrats by about 100,000 voters in Florida. But more than 90 percent of the approximately one million registered blacks there are Democrats. The exclusion of Hispanics from the purge list explains some of the wide discrepancy in party affiliation of voters on the felon list, which bears the names of 28,025 Democrats and just 9,521 Republicans, with most of the rest unaffiliated.

Sarasota Herald Tribune- Hispanics missing from voter purge list

Tom Lyons- More Fla. democracy: Hispanic felons get to vote, and Jeb stays mum:
About 11 percent of Florida's prison population is Hispanic. So, what percentage of the voter purge list is Hispanic? Rounded off to the nearest percentage point, it is: zero.
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That adamantly shouts that, at best, a huge mistake was made. Hispanics aren't just under-represented, or even amazingly under-represented. Statistically, they are gone.

I can't blame anyone who thinks this was engineered purposely. Florida's Hispanic voters traditionally tend to vote Republican in presidential elections, almost as reliably as black voters tend to support Democrats. A purge list with the expected percentage of black felons that omits almost all Hispanic felons is highly suspect. If blacks were absent from that list and Hispanics fully represented, you know what Republicans would say.
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The state refused to release the list to newspapers and other groups that wanted to study it to see if it was really better than the wildly inaccurate list that became infamous for wrongly purging legitimate voters in 2000. It took a lawsuit to force the Division of Elections to turn over the 2004 purge list. Hours after getting a copy this week, reporters Doig and Davis saw what should have been obvious to those who put it together: Hispanics were overwhelmingly absent.
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Gov. Jeb has made many a statement about his commitment to ending Florida's election nightmares. But when asked on Tuesday about this mysteriously unfair glitch, his spokeswoman was adamant: No comment from that office. It seems Jeb doesn't want to hear or talk about anything amiss in election land. That only fuels the unavoidable suspicion that bizarre election problems, accidental or not, still aren't considered a problem here if they help the governor's brother.