POLITICS
10/07/2013 09:44 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2013

Rick Scott Administration Acknowledges Voter Purge Flaws

Florida Governor Rick Scott's (R) administration is acknowledging problems with its attempt to remove noncitizens from state voter rolls during the 2012 election, admitting that the program was flawed from the beginning.

"I accept responsibility for the effort," Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald. "It could have been better. It should have been better."

The 2012 voter purge effort drew legal backlash from voter advocacy groups as well as the Justice Department. Reuters reported in August:

Advocacy groups called the review of non-citizens a thinly veiled attempt to disqualify Hispanic and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. A disproportionately large number of those identified in 2012 were either Hispanic or black, the groups said.

Last year, Florida officials said they had drawn up an initial list of 182,000 potential non-citizens. But that number was reduced to fewer than 200 after election officials acknowledged errors on the original list.

In identifying potential non-citizens, Florida officials sent their information to county election supervisors who then mailed letters to voters requesting proof they were U.S. citizens. If no response was received, the voter was dropped from the rolls.

Scott's administration is currently promoting its revamped voter purge effort, known as "Project Integrity." The new program was set into motion after a federal court dismissed a lawsuit blocking the 2012 purge.

In the Herald/Times interview, Detzner sought to smooth over concerns about the new program.

"We learned from the mistakes we made," he said. "We won't make the same mistakes."

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