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Report: Jeb Bush ignored warning on flawed voter list

[ From the piece:

2,500 ex-felons on the list had had their voting rights restored.

Most were Democrats, and many were black. Hispanics, who often vote Republican in Florida, were almost entirely absent from the list due to a technical error.

–BL ]

October 17, 2004 | Associated Press

Tallahassee, Fla. — Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ignored advice to throw out a flawed felon voter list before it went out to county election offices despite warnings from state officials, according to a published report Saturday.

In a May 4 e-mail obtained by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Florida Department of Law Enforcement computer expert Jeff Long told his boss that a Department of State computer expert had told him “that yesterday they recommended to the Gov. that they ‘pull the plug'” on the voter database.

The e-mail said state election officials “weren’t comfortable with the felon matching program they’ve got,” but added, “The Gov. rejected their suggestion to pull the plug, so they’re ‘going live’ with it this weekend.”

Long, who was responsible for giving elections officials his department’s felon database, confirmed the contents of the e-mail Friday to the Herald-Tribune. He said he didn’t remember the specifics, but that Paul Craft, the Department of State’s top computer expert, had told him about the meeting with Bush.

A software program matched data on felons with voter registration rolls to create the list of 48,000 names. Secretary of State Glenda Hood junked the database in July after acknowledging that 2,500 ex-felons on the list had had their voting rights restored.

Most were Democrats, and many were black. Hispanics, who often vote Republican in Florida, were almost entirely absent from the list due to a technical error.

Bush’s spokeswoman, Jill Bratina, denied allegations that the governor ignored warnings about the list.

Bush told the Herald-Tribune that Craft didn’t call him, and he denied that any meeting took place May 3 with Craft.

“Once it became clear after talking to the secretary of state that there were problems with the list (in July), that’s when we decided to end it,” Bush said.

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