Trump-fake-news-yellow-bg-950x108px.jpg

Voter roll purge in the 2000 Florida election

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search
You Have the Right to Vote.jpg

This page is part of the Election Protection Wiki,
a non-partisan, non-profit collaboration of citizens, activists and researchers to collect reports of voter suppression and the systemic threats to election integrity.

Things you can do:


Home | EPWiki Google Group | Other states | EP issues | EP news | Get active at VSW | Related: Wiki the Vote

Note: The material here comes from Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006) by Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss. It is used here with permission. As with all SourceWatch articles, feel free to edit and revise.


Introduction / motivation

In Florida, and several other states, felons are disenfranchised for life.

Main article: Felon disenfranchisement

In 1999, shortly after Jeb Bush became governor and Katherine Harris took over as secretary of state, Florida embarked on a project to produce a master list of anyone who conceivably might have been a former felon, who would then be scrubbed from voter rolls. [1]

Background: Database Technologies Inc. (DBT)

Florida devoted unprecedented resources to the task. In 1998, under the purview of Katherine Harris’s predecessor, the Florida Department of Elections gave Database Technologies Inc. (DBT) a contract for a first-year fee of $2,317,800 to scrub the voter rolls. (The firm previously doing the work for the Florida Board of Elections had been awarded the job for a bid of $5,700.) The terms of this contract were not publicly disclosed. [2]

Greg Palast reports that even for an ambitious effort, this payment on a per-record basis was more than ten times the industry norm. The state and DBT justified this unusually high figure based on contract requirements that called for “manual verification using telephone calls and statistical sampling.” [3] However, it appears that DBT was paid such a grand sum precisely not to verify names. One list from DBT included 8,000 names from Texas supplied by George Bush’s state officials. [4] Serious criminals are barred from voting in Florida, and these 8,000 voters were all listed as having been felons in Texas. As it turns out, almost none were. Nearly all had committed only minor violations and misdemeanors. Typical was Reverend Willie Whiting, who was removed from the voting rolls for a speeding ticket twenty-five years earlier. [5]

Why so many non-felons were "scrubbed" from the voting rolls

Under orders from Harris’s office, DBT provided matches of anyone with a close name. Thus, for example, John Jackson is a black man who had served time in Texas, so Johnny Jackson Jr., a black man in Florida with the same birth date, was purged from the registration rolls. [6] DBT used lists of former felons that included names and birth dates and race, but counted as a “match” names that were only approximate. DBT specifically wrote Harris’s office to say that their name-match criteria would include a large number of nonfelons, and Harris’s office advised them in writing to lower the name-match criterion further to 85%. All told, DBT generated a list of 82,389 voters to purge from registries. [7]

DBT subsequently tried to defend their lists by claiming they were 85% accurate. [8] But that would still mean that well over 10,000 mostly minority, poor, and Democratic Floridians were illegally disenfranchised — more than twenty times Bush’s margin of victory in the state. Plus, where verification was attempted, the accuracy of the list was nowhere near 85%. Officials in Leon County, Florida, tried to verify the 694 names on the list from Tallahassee and found only 34 to be a match—a 5% accuracy rate. [9]

Robert E. Pierre reported in the Washington Post that responsibility for this faulty voter purge lies with Harris’s office, not DBT: From the beginning, Database Technologies raised serious concerns that non-felons could be misidentified. ... “Obviously, we want to capture more names that possibly aren’t matches,” said Emmett “Bucky” Mitchell, who headed the state purge effort, in a March 1999 e-mail to Database Technologies product manager Marlene Thorogood, who had warned him of possible mistakes. ... Clay Roberts, director of the state’s division of elections, confirmed the policy. ... “The decision was made to do the match in such a way as not to be terribly strict on the name.” “We warned them,” said James E. Lee, vice president of communications for the company. “The list was exactly what the state wanted. They said, ‘The counties will verify the information, so you don’t have to.’” [10]

Punishment/penalties for erroneous disenfranchisement

Florida officials neither sought reimbursement nor penalty, but rather awarded DBT another contract renewal, bringing total fees to over $4 million. [11]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006) Chapter 2. Florida sets the stage
  2. Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (London: Pluto Press, 2002), 44–47. DBT was subsequently merged into ChoicePoint Corporation.
  3. Ibid, 45. The industry norm is $0.27 per record.
  4. Palast was subsequently able to obtain a copy of the contract between the State of Florida and Database Technologies Inc., including one sheet—the sheet that contains this quote—marked “DBT Confidential and Trade Secret” (a copy appears in Palast, Best Democracy, 50).
  5. Greg Palast, “What Really Happened in Florida?” BBC Broadcast, February 16, 2001.
  6. Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (London: Pluto Press, 2002), 54
  7. John Nichols, Jews for Buchanan (New York: The New Press, 2001), 38
  8. John Nichols, Jews for Buchanan (New York: The New Press, 2001), 38
  9. John Nichols, Jews for Buchanan (New York: The New Press, 2001), 38
  10. Robert E. Pierre, “Botched Name Purge Denied Some the Right to Vote,” Washington Post, Thursday, May 31, 2001.
  11. Robert E. Pierre, “Botched Name Purge Denied Some the Right to Vote,” Washington Post, Thursday, May 31, 2001.

External resources

Books

  • Steven F. Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006) Chapter 2. Florida sets the stage
  • John Nichols, Jews for Buchanan (New York: The New Press, 2001)
  • Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy (London: Pluto Press, 2002), 44–47
  • Lance deHaven-Smith, The Battle for Florida: An Annotated Compendium of Materials from the 2000 Presidential Election (2005, University of Florida Press)

Websites


Articles


Debate: