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Florida to Continue Hunt for Illegal Voters as Election Nears

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Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Florida will probably resume its search for illegally registered voters before the presidential election.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner halted the process in April after county election supervisors complained about using only driver’s license data to determine voters’ citizenship. Florida requires residents to prove their citizenship before getting a license or other state ID. That information, the election officials said, is not regularly updated.

The state is “very likely” to restart its search before the Nov. 6 election now that it has access to federal immigration data, said Chris Cate, a State Department spokesman. The state will again flag potential noncitizens using driver’s license data and check those names against information from the U.S. Homeland Security Department.

“We’re going to treat these noncitizens just like we would treat felons or any other ineligible voter we have a year-round responsibility to identify and remove from the rolls,” Cate said in an interview.

Florida, the biggest electoral prize among states viewed as competitive by the presidential campaigns, identified 2,600 potential noncitizens on voting rolls at the direction of Republican Governor Rick Scott. That list has been reduced to about 200 since the state received access to federal immigration data, Cate said.

The state, which has about 11.5 million voters, will alert voters who were improperly removed, or wrongly told they would be removed, that they can vote, Detzner said last week. That announcement followed a legal complaint by five groups, including Florida Immigrant Coalition Inc. a Miami-based nonprofit organization.

The state’s voter purge is also being challenged in federal courts in Tallahassee by the U.S. Justice Department and in Tampa by the American Civil Liberties Union.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee at mbender10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net

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