Secretary of State Ken Detzner is in Broward on Wednesday morning for the final stop on what he’s dubbed his “Project Integrity” tour.
It’s the effort by the state’s top elections official to sell version 2.0 of the controversial voter roll purge that erupted in controversy last year.
Among those expected to hear the presentation from Detzner are Elections Supervisors Brenda Snipes from Broward and Susan Bucher from Palm Beach County. At previous stops on the tour, Detzner has told supervisors that he would avoid the 2012 effort’s problems.
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2:39 p.m. | Deutch statement
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch’s district director, Wendi Lipsich, asked to read a statement from the congressman at Detzner’s hearing. The secretary of state wouldn’t allow it.
Here’s the statement:
Last year, Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner went to great lengths to defend a deeply flawed purge of Florida’s voter rolls in advance of the 2012 elections. They denied their data was riddled with thousands of errors, even as naturalized citizens, small business owners, and veterans found their voting rights in jeopardy. They claimed voter fraud threatened to dilute election results in Florida, even though independent analysis suggests it was their new restrictions on voting that forced hundreds of legitimate voters to cast provisional ballots on Election Day. While Secretary Detzner has finally apologized for misleading the people of Florida, this alone is not enough. I appreciate that the Secretary is taking steps to listen to Supervisors before diving headfirst into another poorly conceived purge. In order to rebuild trust with Florida voters, Governor Scott and his allies in Tallahassee should be taking steps to make voting easier in our state - extending early voting hours, automatically registering eligible Floridians to vote, and engaging more legitimate voters in our democratic process.
11:40 a.m. | The audience
About 80 people are in the audience. Some are political activists. Also present, the district directors for Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
There’s lots of media attention on the event. Besides the Sun Sentinel, reporters are on hand from the Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post, New York Times and NPR. Also a blogger from the Red Broward website.
10:44 a.m. | Late start
The session, scheduled to begin at 10: 30 a.m., is just getting underway.
Detzner said he wanted to wait for some South Florida supervisors of elections to arrive, so the start is delayed.
10:38 a.m. | Protesters ready for Detzner
Representatives from liberal organizations, civil rights organizations and the Democratic Party held a pre-Detzner protest/press conference outside the Broward Elections Office in Lauderhill.
They blasted Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Based on last year’s attempted purge experience, they said the state couldn’t be trusted to do it correctly this time.
They also said that the key difference the state is touting, access to a federal Homeland Security database, isn’t enough to ensure the integrity of the process. It isn’t designed to determine who is and isn’t a citizen.
“Stop playing political games with Floridians’ fundamental right to vote,” said Nancy Abudu, a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Floridians do not have confidence in Governor Scott’s administration.”
In back of Abudu, about 20 protesters stood, several holding signs proclaiming “Purge Rick Scott,” “Free Fair Elections,” “Protect Florida’s Vote,” and “Don’t Purge Me!”
Helping organize the rally was a staffer from the state Democratic Party. In the group, but not speaking, was Cynthia Busch, vice chairwoman of the Broward Democratic Party.
9 a.m. | Original post
Perhaps the most outspoken critic of the 2012 voter purge effort was U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represents northwest Broward and southwest Palm Beach County. He was concerned that it was inaccurate and a partisan attempt to discourage minority and Democratic voters.
He remains concerned, as you can see in the video interview above, conducted Monday before he returned to Washington, D.C., for the continuing impasse over federal spending.
“There are some real questions about the voter files that they maintain, discrepancies between what they keep and what the counties keep. They have to make sure that they are doing their job before they go out there and try to scare people into thinking that there is a problem that doesn’t exist.
“Given the track record, given the fact that the secretary of state and the governor and his entire team defended the  voter purge only now to come back and acknowledge that they were mistaken, of course there’s reason to be skeptical. We absolutely should be very concerned about what they’re doing now, especially as we get ready to head into another election, and especially given that it happens to be an election when the governor is on the ballot and up for reelection.”
The bottom line: “I think they ought to be really careful before they embark upon something like this again, especially when there’s no evidence that voter fraud is a problem. In fact what they do is to drum up opposition to something that just isn’t the concern that they make it out to be.”