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National Politics

Election officials told Scott he wasn't a voter, thought he was dead

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 05:44 PM
TALLAHASSEE -

Gov. Rick Scott knows what it's like to be told that he's dead and not registered to vote.

The Republican governor said in a radio interview today that he was forced to cast a provisional ballot because election officials said he had been taken off the voter rolls.

"They said I had passed away," Scott said on Tallahassee-based radio station WFLA. "I said, `Here's my driver's license. I'm here, I'm really alive.' So they allowed me to vote provisionally."

Collier County election officials confirmed that Scott was required to cast a provisional ballot in two elections in 2006. Scott was not in politics at the time.

The ballot was counted both times.

Tim Durham, the chief deputy supervisor of elections, could not explain why Scott was forced to cast the provisional ballots. But he said it appears that another Florida resident with the same first and last name and the same date of birth had died in January 2006. The two men, however, had different middle names.

Provisional ballots are given to those who show up at the polls but are not listed as a registered voter. Voters are then given two days to prove that they are eligible.

Provisional ballots are an outgrowth of the chaotic 2000 presidential election, when there were reports of voters being turned away in Florida over questions about their eligibility. The presidential election that year was decided by just 537 votes.

Scott brought up the story of using a provisional ballot as part of his effort to defend an effort to identify and remove non-U.S. citizens from the rolls.

Scott's push has triggered a partisan outcry and lawsuits. The U.S. Justice Department earlier this week sued Florida over the purge, saying it is happening within 90 days of a federal election.

Last year, Florida compared driver's license records with voter registration records and turned up as many as 182,000 registered voters who may not be U.S. citizens. But state officials did not release that list and instead sought access to a federal immigration database to verify the matches.

That request so far has been turned down by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Florida on Monday sued the agency to get access to the database.

Earlier this year, state officials sent to local election officials a much smaller list of more than 2,600 voters and asked them to check the names. Since April, local supervisors have removed roughly 100 voters from the rolls for being non-U.S. citizens. But some of those were identified by supervisors and were not on the state's list.

Most counties — citing the clashing legal opinions — have suspended all work on the purge.

But both Lee and Collier county officials say they will remove 25 voters in the next few weeks if the voters fail to respond to mail requests and a newspaper notice.

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