Monday, July 12, 2004
The Herald, you'll recall, recently broke the story of the 2000+ felons who were still included on Florida's voter-purge list despite having received official clemency from the state. In the article below, Jim Defede describes the circumstances that finally forced Secretary of State Glenda Hood to discard the list altogether, and quotes a field director for People for the American Way who says: ''This kind of malfeasance of justice clearly has every degree of manipulation written all over it.''
Rather than admit the list was filled with errors, Secretary of State Glenda Hood defended her agency's shoddy work and attacked The Herald. She even had the chutzpah to offer a ''tutorial for all reporters'' last week on the purge list and how it was created, ''in order to prevent factually inaccurate articles such as those reported by The Herald'' from being repeated.
Turns out, it was Hood who needed the tutorial.
Since The Herald story, more revelations have followed. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported Wednesday that out of the nearly 48,000 names on the list, only 61 were Hispanic. Once again Hood and her boss, Gov. Jeb Bush, stood by the list.
Then on Saturday, The New York Times showed why Hispanics, who largely vote Republican, were kept from the list while blacks, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic, remained. It turns out, the Department of Corrections database follows the federal standard for race, classifying Hispanics as white, and the election department rolls identify voters by ethnicity. Since the two databases didn't mesh, the identity of Hispanic felons couldn't be verified and were therefore kept off the list . . . .
As far as I'm concerned, there is no more trust. There are no more second chances. Glenda Hood must resign. She is either amazingly incompetent or the leader of a frightening conspiracy, but either way she should go.
Next, the governor should remove himself from matters affecting elections and an agency such as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights should step in and assume direct oversight of the state's election system.
Florida is simply a joke that just isn't funny any longer.