A decorated World War II veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, is in the center of a controversy that’s been brewing out of Florida. Bill Internicola, a 91-year-old veteran, recently was identified as a non-U.S. citizen and not eligible to vote.
A letter from the Supervisor of Elections from Broward County to Mr. Internicola declared that the State of Florida had information that that the combat veteran was not a United States citizen but was registered to vote. The letter stated that in order for him to vote, he would have to prove that he was a citizen. This meant that a man who was awarded the Bronze Medal for bravery and a registered Democrat had to prove that he was, indeed an American citizen which is exactly what he did.
The effort launched by the Republican administration of Governor Rick Scott is purported to be an attempt to verify the eligibility of registered voters, but has been sharply criticized as nothing but pure voter suppression. The troubling aspect of this so-called purge of Florida voters is that critics say this movement appears to be not only racially or ethnically motivated, but also geared towards Democratic and Independent voters.
The Miami Herald reported that of the 180,000 people identified as possible non-U.S. citizens, 58% of the voters on the purge list are Hispanic and the least likely voters to be on the list were Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. Proponents of the purge have argued that the most likely people suspected of voter fraud are minorities, which in effect is a racist comment. Furthermore there is there is little evidence of fraud and thus far, only 13 have been identified as noncitizens.
Governor Scott has defended the purge as necessary to have fair elections but a letter sent to the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner from the Department of Justice has said that the practice appears to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The Scott administration has ignored the letter and has reportedly continued with the process of attempting to remove people from the ranks of voters, legal or not. However the DOJ has given the State of Florida until today to respond to the possible violations and a showdown between the Scott administration and the DOJ is imminent.
The ascension of the former enlisted Navy man to businessman to Governor of Florida represents a success story for enlisted personnel who have taken advantage of the GI Bill. However in the eyes of his critics, which now include more military veterans, Rick Scott is now appearing to deny certain American citizens the right to vote. With the Florida House of Representatives elections less than 90 days away, it will be interesting to see how the voter turnout will be, which may play a critical role in the presidential elections in November.