Florida Governor Rick Scott was in Miami Thursday to sign two transportation bills into law and tour the Port Tunnel progress, but focus remained squarely on his legal and political fight to purge the state voter rolls of non-citizens.
"We're following the law," Scott said. "The federal government is the one not following the law. Give us our database that, by statute, we're entitled to so we can do our job. That's all we're asking."
The state has sued the Department of Homeland Security over the SAFE database, a database federal authorities claim isn't meant to be used to identify citizenship without other criteria.
The state is, instead, using lists from the Florida Division of Motor Vehicles, compiled from driver license applicants with no citizenship verification. The errors on the list prompted the Department of Justice to file a lawsuit against the State of Florida this week. The suit also charges Florida is altering voter records too close to the August primary.
Almost 8 of 10 people listed as non-citizens on the state records are immigrants, believed to be Democratic or independent voters, leading to charges of partisan politics to help Republicans in front of Florida's August 14th primary.
"This is not a partisan issue," said the Governor. "I don't know of a Democrat that wants a non-citizen to be a voter in elections."
More than half of the people, 1,637, on the state's list are in Miami-Dade County. About a third provided proof of citizenship, but 14 admitted they were ineligible. On Broward's list of 261 names, seven proved they are citizens, and three admit they are not.
Elections supervisors in most of Florida's 67 counties have paused the process, including Miami-Dade's.
"She sent back a letter to the state that said the list was unreliable. So we stopped the purge until we get a much more reliable list from the state," Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
The process is not exactly a purge. Those on the list receive a letter giving them 30 days to provide proof of citizenship. And during elections, they can even show up and vote provisionally.
Governor Scott said he has done that first hand, having been declared deceased on the voter rolls in the 2006 election season.
"I remember walking in, I hadn't gotten any notice that I'd passed away, and then I just filled out the form, and that's it," the governor said.