Civil rights groups voice concerns after thousands of Duval residents removed from voter rolls

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are new concerns from several Florida civil rights groups that some people in Duval County are not being allowed to vote.

They are referring to a list of people removed or purged from voter rolls for various reasons. And there is a concern as well of those who registrations that are not being accepted.

Robert Candela went to the Supervisor of Elections office in downtown Jacksonville on Wednesday to find out if he is eligible to vote. Candela is a convicted felon but believes his voting rights have been restored.

“I just tried to register and I will know in two days whether or not I can vote,” Candela said.

His concern is something others are worried about as well.

From Feb. 1 to Sept. 30, 20,269 voters have been removed from the voting rolls for various reasons.

For example, they may be a convicted felon, moved out of the county, are mentally incompetent or died. The head of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville Ben Frazier says that high number has him worried.

“Our concern more precisely is that racial bias and partisan politics may already be being used to suppress the right to vote here in Duval County,” Frazier said.

Duval County’s Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan says that is far from the truth. Hogan says he is following the rules.

“This is routine stuff and it’s done every year and it’s always heightened in a presidential year,” Hogan said.

There is also concern about voter registrations being denied.

An attorney for the Florida Democratic Party Voter Protection Team says Duval County is rejecting voter applications at a high rate as compared to other parts of the state.

Jennifer Scuteri said that in the last two years, more than 7,000 voter registration applications were denied.

“Why are your denials so high? Why are they so much higher than other counties? And digging down why are they occurring 5 to 1 Democrats to Republicans and why are we seeing at 48% of these denials are occurring for African-Americans,” Scuteri said.

Hogan says, again, they are following the law. He says the applications were missing important information.

“There are a host of things on that form that folks leave out. Sometimes they don’t sign it. We’ve seen places where they didn’t even put their name on it,” Hogan said.

Right now, both sides have the same advice for new voters: If you have not voted in several years or recently registered, check online, call or visit the Supervisor of Elections Office before Oct. 5 and see if you are registered to vote.

About the Author: