I twice voted for business friendly Florida Governor Rick Scott. And, on balance, Rick has done a good job. But as John Fund writes, the governor’s failure to block non-citizen voting in Florida is off the rails.
After years of legal battles between the governor’s office and the Obama administration, a federal-appeals-court panel issued an astonishing ruling last November. It forbade Florida from removing aliens here illegally and other non-citizens from its voter rolls in the 90 days prior to a federal election. Because Florida has a September primary, that means it would be effectively blocked from cleaning its voter rolls after early June of any election year. The panel overturned District Judge William Zloch’s earlier ruling, which had concluded that such an interpretation would “stand in direct contravention of Florida law [and] produce an absurd result.”
So absurd that both Judge Zloch, a Reagan appointee, and Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, have tossed out the claims of the Holder Justice Department and its liberal allies and affirmed Florida’s laws against non-citizen voting. After the two judges ruled, even the Holder Justice Department gave up and withdrew from the case. But its liberal allies persisted and hit the jackpot with a rogue ruling last November from two Obama-appointed judges on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
It should have been a no-brainer for Governor Scott to appeal the “absurd” Eleventh Circuit Court ruling to the Supreme Court. He had the sole power to decide the issue. In a press release announcing the decision, his office claimed he had everything under control: “Florida is in an excellent position to conduct fair elections. . . . We will never stop working to eliminate fraud and abuse and make further improvements when they are needed.” Hogwash. It’s as if Governor Scott had decided to tie both his hands behind his back and then declared he was fully prepared to box a ten-round fight.
Florida officials are gobsmacked over Scott’s decision not to appeal. So are national experts. “The decision not to appeal is one of the stupidest decisions by an elected official on a voting issue I have ever seen” says Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member and my co-author on a book about voter fraud, Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk. “To allow such an absurd decision to stand — that states cannot remove non-citizens who were never eligible to vote from the voter rolls — is irresponsible.”