Martin Bashir: Florida Is Kind of Like Stalin

Just to follow up on my post yesterday on Florida cleaning up its voter rolls, MSDNC’s Martin Bashir goes and proves my point with his rant yesterday, “Why is the Sunshine State in the midst of a purge that even Josef Stalin would admire?”

Please, please if you are truly interested in this story, set a Google News Alert for Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald and start following his pieces on the issue. Here’s a recent article by Caputo on what’s going on. Hint, it’s not Stalinism:

Call 10 people on Miami-Dade’s potential noncitizen voter list and, it seems, one is bound to be under indictment.

So it was with Brutus. Ricardo Brutus, that is.

An immigrant from Haiti, Brutus’ name popped up on a state list of potential noncitizen voters, about 2,000 of whom are in Miami-Dade. Brutus was one of the few people we initially reached while researching the list.

“Trust me, I’m a U.S. citizen. I have a passport and everything,” Brutus said. The registered Democrat said he became a citizen in 2007 before voting in the following presidential and gubernatorial elections. He plans to vote for President Barack Obama in the fall.

But it might be the last Florida election in which he can cast a ballot.

A nephew of North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre, Brutus is facing criminal charges for allegedly accepting unlawful compensation in a cash-for-votes scheme in 2011. Then, just last week, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement hit Brutus with more charges: practicing law without a license, grand theft and organized fraud.

If convicted, Brutus will be a felon. And most felons are banned from voting in Florida, along with noncitizens, nonresidents and those under the age of 18.

None of the charges Brutus faces appears related to the fact that he is listed as a potential noncitizen voter.

Brutus’ situation, however, makes it easy to draw a loose connection between shady politics and voting in Florida — especially in Miami-Dade County. Because it’s election season, loose connections abound.

After all, Miami-Dade is the county where voter fraud marred a 1997 mayoral election. Then, three years later, Miami-Dade shut down a ballot recount amid the so-called “Brooks Brothers riot” of conservative activists.

Also in 2000, the state’s Division of Elections tried to purge the voter rolls of felons and could have blocked thousands of lawful voters in a presidential election decided by 537 votes.

The state felons purge underscored how difficult it can be to accurately match the state’s voter-rolls database with other databases, all of which can have just enough errors to produce mismatches that ultimately can cost a citizen his right to vote. But voter-roll purges can also ensure that the voter rolls are clean.

The state doesn’t appear to be embarking on a similar felons purge this year, but its decision to target noncitizen voters — about 2,700 so far — is drawing fire from the left. Florida’s noncitizen voter hunt comes on the heels of similar efforts in the two swing states of Colorado and New Mexico, where GOP secretaries of state have been accused of playing politics.

To make a noncitizen-voter match, the state compares the voter rolls with Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle database, which includes citizenship information when a person gets identification, such as a driver’s license, from the agency.

But the highway safety database isn’t updated once an immigrant becomes a lawful citizen. So the citizenship data of thousands can be outdated. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has refused to give Florida access to its databases that can make the process more accurate.

So now the state highway safety agency is trying to query the federal homeland security database to help out the state elections division.

It’s a pain. And it’s basically a no-win public-relations situation for the elections division.

“We have an obligation to improve the accuracy of Florida’s voter rolls, so we have offered to pay the cost it takes for DHSMV to update their records and ultimately the status of potential noncitizens on Florida’s voter rolls,” said state elections spokesman Chris Cate. “We don’t have an estimate of how many noncitizens will be confirmed to be on the voter rolls, but it is very important we check.”

The state has also identified what it says are 53,000 dead people on the voter rolls.

The rest here.

But like I said yesterday, this is a bipartisan problem. Why the DHS isn’t helping out is beyond me, unless it’s to make the situation in Florida so cumbersome that hacks like Bashir can make an issue out of it in order to may the GOP look bad.

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