Florida's search of a Department of Homeland Security database for non-citizens who are registered voters might get started as early as next week, but the job of scratching non-citizen voters from the rolls might not be finished before the November general election, a Florida elections spokesman said.
"Our primary focus is on quality and doing it right," Florida Department of State spokesman Chris Cate said. "We're going to work as promptly and thoroughly as we can."
The Department of Homeland Security told Florida late last week that it could access the federal SAVE database -- Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements -- but officials still are working out the final agreement, Cate said.
Florida election workers would need to take a day-long online training course to use the database, Cate said Monday.
From there, the state plans to run names through the database and send information about non-citizens on the voter rolls to county election supervisors.
Florida earlier sent a list of 2,600 names of suspected non-citizen voters to elections supervisors in 67 Florida counties. They were culled from Florida driver's license records.
In Collier County, which had 27 names on the list, elections supervisor Jennifer Edwards said her main concern with the federal database review is that election officials aren't rushed to purge suspected non-citizens from the rolls.
"We need to be deliberate; we need to be cautious," Edwards said. "I would hope we would have the appropriate amount of time to go ahead with the process."
Edwards said she relayed her concerns to Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
Edwards said supervisors would need at least 60 days to follow a two-step process, outlined by law, to give people time to prove they are citizens and shouldn't be removed from the voter rolls.
Suspected non-citizens would be sent letters, with 30 days to respond. Those who didn't respond would be named in newspaper notices; they would have 30 more days to stop elections officials from taking them off the voter list.
The new search will rerun those 2,600 names through the most recent driver's license database. Suspected non-citizens then would be run through the Homeland Security database, Cate said. In a second step, Florida will run its entire voter list through the most recent driver's license database and then send suspected noncitizen names through the federal database.
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