SEBRING - This latest voter purge - called Project Integrity - even sounds kinder and gentler.
Last year, nearly all the 67 elections supervisors scrapped a purge of voter rolls - requested by Gov. Rick Scott - after they discovered the majority of 182,000 voters flagged by Secretary of State Ken Detzner's office were eligible. Most were minorities or had Hispanic-sounding surnames, but some were naturalized citizens; some were born in the U.S. The number dropped to 198 before the counties suspended their efforts.
This year, said Highlands County Elections Supervisor Penny Ogg, "There is no list. And according to the information received, we will not get another 'list'."
Ogg met with Detzner in Orlando on Monday, part of a five-city road show to satisfy her and the other 66 county elections supervisors that combing the voter rolls for non-citizens is the right thing to do. The Department of State controls the Division of Elections.
"They will be sending down case-by-case files electronically as they deem a voter a potential non-citizen," said Ogg, who supervised Detzner's request last year to examine five Highlands County names. None were removed.
This time, rather than rely solely on the alien registration numbers from driver's license records, Detzner told supervisors he now has credible and reliable information from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security database that collects information from several federal agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According a Project Integrity flow chart, when voters register, elections supervisors will sift each name though the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database of registered non-U.S. citizens. SAVE doesn't show undocumented residents, U.S.-born citizens or U.S. citizens who have renounced citizenship, Ogg said it only shows documented residents and their current immigration status.
A voter will only be vetted if an alien resident number has been issued, indicating the voter was at one point a non-citizen, Ogg said. After following a list of procedures including a hearing and publication of the name in a newspaper, supervisors would remove questionable names from the voter rolls.
Ogg said supervisors should work backwards from new registrations through current rolls until all voter registrations has been vetted. Once a registration is vetted and the voter determined to be a citizen, the record is flagged and will not be vetted again, she said.
"We have no start date as to when they may begin," Ogg said.
On Monday, Detzner said they were in the feedback stage from the supervisors of elections." More meetings were scheduled in Panama City, Jacksonville, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale.
On Tuesday, Ogg joined a coalition of 34 Florida county Supervisors of Elections for a $1.8 million Electronic Absentee Systems for Elections grant, funded by the Federal Voting Assistance Program, to expand the absentee voting process for military and overseas citizens.
It will allow voters to request, mark and track their absentee ballots electronically. The system will provide greater online access and expedite blank ballot delivery, which is expected to increase return rates of military and overseas voters.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this story.