Rick Scott's stand

Published On: Jun 12 2012 08:22:47 AM EDT   Updated On: Jun 13 2012 08:21:32 AM EDT
Rick Scott Florida Governor

Florida has many real-life problems, so why has Gov. Rick Scott not only invented one but dragged the state into an absurd debate now mired in lawsuits? 

Scott has decided to make purging the voter lists of illegal immigrants his number one priority. The federal government says the effort is illegal; so does the ACLU. Now Scott is suing the Department of Homeland Security for its immigrant list. 

There is absolutely no evidence that noncitizen voting is a problem in Florida. So why has Scott dragged our state into this mess? Only he really knows, but remember it is of course an election year with a very close race expected between President Obama and Mitt Romney. And this voter purge -- because it puts the onus on the voters targeted to reinstate their registration -- is set to hit minorities, especially Hispanics (who are predominantly Democratic voters) hardest. Targeting immigrants also helps satisfy his Tea Party base. 

But Scott is isolated on this one. Do you see many big-name Republicans like, say, Marco Rubio stepping up to defend the voter purge? No. The Republican Party of Florida, however, is standing by the governor's effort to, as they put it, "secure our elections." 

The state says it has found 87 noncitizens so far. Compare that to more than 500 known legal voters targeted in the lists to date. The net effect, if Scott was to aim his efforts at all 182,000 people on the list, would almost surely be massive disenfranchisement of legitimate voters.

The local party is in its own dubious cause: purging dead voters from the voter lists. Broward Republican Chairman Richard DeNapoli went on Fox News to talk about this scourge. Of course, the Supervisor of Elections deletes dead voters every day and there's no indication, again, that dead voters have been a problem in Broward County at all. But why would that stop them? 

With so many real problems to tackle, the governor and his party have put themselves on an island. It's going to be interesting to see if Florida citizens decide to vote them off of it.