Voter ID laws in Florida and in other states have sparked much controversy. The laws require voters to prove citizenship in some cases and to provide government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Advocates of the laws say that voter fraud is rampant, with many non-citizens voting, so the laws are required to prevent the fraud. Those who oppose the laws say that the laws may disenfranchise up to 11% of eligible voters, especially women, minorities, the elderly, and those with lower incomes.
Recently, those who oppose voter ID laws have been pointing to the case of Florida resident Bill Internicola, who was recently contacted by the Broward Supervisor of Elections via letter and asked to prove his citizenship. The letter stated that Internicola would be removed from voter rolls if he was unable to prove his citizenship. However, Internicola was surprised by the letter, since the 91-year old is a veteran of World War II and a winner of the Bronze Star and the Legion of Honor for his service to his country. He was born in Brooklyn and is a Democrat. Although he is a citizen, the letter from the Supervisor of Elections informed Internicola that he was registered to vote by but that the supervisor’s office had received information “from the State of Florida that [he is] not a United States citizen.”
Florida initially claimed that there were over 182 000 individuals on voting rolls who were non-citizens but eventually reduced that list to 2600 and sent those names to the counties, so that the counties could investigate and get proof of citizenship. Internicola was on that list, prompting some to question how the state created its list of supposed non-citizens. Some media outlets are claiming that the list of supposed non-citizens has a lather number of Independents, Democrats, and minorities on it, with most names from Miami-Dade County. Some allege that removing voters from the rolls in Florida could have a significant impact on the election, since Broward has the most Democratic voters in the country.
After Internicola came forward with his story, members of congress approached Florida Governor Rick Scott to ask him to stop the efforts to purge the voter rolls of supposed non-citizens. They noted that Internicola’s shows that the process may be subject to errors and inaccuracies. Scott has supported the voter ID laws, saying that more checks are needed to ensure that only eligible voters can cast a ballot.
Internicola sent his army discharge papers in to prove his citizenship and to allow him to vote. However, he is not the only vet to be accused of being ineligible to vote. Another World War II veteran, Archibald Bowyer, received a similar letter telling him he was not a citizen. He has been a naturalized citizen for more than thirty years.