War hero mistakenly loses right to vote in attempt to weed out Hispanic voters in Florida
Apparently, even war heroes aren't immune to questions over their citizenship status. Recently, Bill Internicola, a 91-year-old who received a Bronze Star after fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, received a letter that casted doubts on his citizenship and stated that he needed to prove his status or he would lose his right to vote.
The letter was due to an apparent mix-up in Florida's recent attempts to flush out non citizens from the state's voter registration rolls before this November's election. Though Internicola has since proven his citizenship, he told the Miami Herald he was initially "flabbergasted" at the letter…and I can't say I blame him. Imagine having been raised in the US (he was born in Brooklyn) and gone to war to fight for your country only to be met with suspicion later in life.
Iternicola is just one of a list of more than 2,600 voters on the list of Florida's potential non citizens, compiled through the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These individuals have 30 days from the receipt of the letter to provide documentation of citizenship or they will be removed from the rolls. A Miami Herald analysis of the list found that the list was (unsurprisingly) dominated by Democrats, independents and Hispanics.
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While I understand the theory behind Florida's new program, the practice, created by Governor Rick Scott, seems more than a little flawed…not to mention, kind of convenient so close to the upcoming election (The counties and groups that are being called out are largely Democratic and Florida is not exactly known for its upright voting practices. Just saying!). And while it might have been easy for Internicole to prove his citizenship with the right documentation, it's completely unfair for the state to wrongly accuse someone who is not only a citizen, but who has served their country.
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If Florida officials were really serious making the efforts fair and practical, they wouldn't be relying on a computer database of driver licenses that isn't even automatically updated when one does become a citizen. Threatening to take someone's voting rights away is no joke and doing so in large droves could potentially affect the entire election--particularly because the groups the list targets aren't exactly small!
It's already been determined that Hispanics will have a monumental impact on this year's election. That means Florida officials should start being more careful in their supposedly helpful attempts to "cleanse" the system...and give Internicola the big fat apology that he deserves.
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Image via Local10.com