Florida, DOJ battle on voter roll purge

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": In the meantime, things are getting very hot in Florida just days after the Department of Justice forced the state to halt a purge of non-citizens from its voter rolls.

Florida shot back immediately, declaring the purge perfectly legal and necessary to ensure the integrity of elections, that the program would continue. They even gave the DOJ a deadline to respond today. Did they?

Let's ask the Florida governor himself, Rick Scott.

Governor, good to have you. What has the department told you?

GOV. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.: Well, Neil, the debate is over. Here's what we have found.

We have found individuals that are registered to vote that don't have a right to vote, they're non-citizens, and they voted. I have a job to do to defend the right of legitimate voters, citizens of our state. We have been asking for the Department of Homeland Security's database SAVE, for months, and they have not given it to us.

So this afternoon, we will be filing a lawsuit to -- the Florida secretary of state's office will be filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to give us that database. We want to have fair, honest elections in our state and so we've been put in the position that we have to sue the federal government to get this information.

CAVUTO: All right, now, the DOJ isn't the only one causing you headaches, right? Sixty-seven election supervisors in your state won't resume this purge. So, what does is that telling you? They're nervous, right?

SCOTT: Well, look, every -- everybody wants to do their job.

And we know individuals are voting. We did a small sample. We have 86 individuals that registered to vote that didn't have a right. We know 46 of them did. We cannot afford to dilute the rights of our citizens their vote. Homeland Security should be giving assist. I'd like to work with them to get this done right. And so because of that, we have no choice but to file this lawsuit today.

CAVUTO: OK. Your critics, Governor, say since this purge list, you've found not even a dozen who should not be voting in Florida; 500 others were found to be actual citizens, so that, so far, you aren't getting, I don't, enough bang for the bite here. What do you make of that?

SCOTT: Neil, we have already -- look, we just did a small sample. And we already found 86 that are registered to vote that were non-citizens.

We have 46 that voted that we know. I want -- I don't want do dilute the vote of any one citizen or state. The right way of doing this, we have a right to this database that Homeland Security has. It's supposed to be used for voter registration. I look forward to them giving us the database, but again we're -- we don't have a choice but to sue them this afternoon.

CAVUTO: Now, I can understand where you're coming from, but let's you're found to be a citizen, you're still on that list, it's an older database. Then you go to, let's say, Tallahassee, or Palm Beach, or Miami to vote, you're on that list, you're in a world of voting hurt. Right? You can't vote.

SCOTT: No, that's -- no. We – there's a due process.

The way it works is the first thing you do is the supervisor of election in the county sends out a letter. You have an opportunity, 30 days to respond. After that, they have to put it in the paper. After that, if you don't respond, and you are not on the rolls, when you go vote, you'll have a provisional vote and they will figure out afterwards.

There's complete due process. And, Neil, not one person has been eliminated from the voter rolls that has a right to vote, but we know that people that didn't have a right to vote have voted in our elections. That's not fair to the citizens of our state and it's not the way we want to have elections. We want fair, honest elections.

CAVUTO: No, I understand what you're saying, Governor.

I guess what alarms me is that even in your state, it seems like a lot of Republicans don't have your back or have not commented much on it. Marco Rubio comes to mind. I've went and researched this and if he has expressed his support for what you are doing, I stand corrected, but as far as I know, he has not. So, what's going on there, even within your party?

SCOTT: Well, look, my job is to enforce the laws of Florida.

I'm the governor of Florida. That's what I got elected to do. I expect every other elected official to do their job. And I believe they will. The – we've already done this small sample. I expect the federal government to do their job. I can't imagine anybody would want elections that are not honest and fair, anybody would want one vote diluted by individuals that don't have the right to vote.

CAVUTO: Now, the ACLU and others predictably say that you are targeting minorities. They go so far as to say this violates the 1965 Voters Right Act and that this is setting up bad political news for you and the party in the fall.

That a state in large thanks to some of the improvements you have economically led, with the unemployment rate has been coming down, helping Republicans, now you're wrapping yourself around an issue that might not. How do you feel about that?

SCOTT: Well, you're right. Neil, we have had a great turn in our economy. Unemployment has dropped from 11.1 to 8.7 percent. We've had the fastest drop of any state but one.

This Friday, we'll find out how we have done. Hopefully, we will continue to go down. I know the federal numbers were worse last month, but, look, I don't get to pick and choose what laws I want to enforce. I enforce all the laws of the land. This is not a partisan issue. This is not Republican or Democrat or Independent issue.

This is an issue that we need have fair elections in our state. I want to make sure that when we have elections, your vote, not one person's vote gets diluted by somebody that doesn't have the right to vote.

CAVUTO: Now, a Latino will come to the polls -- and a number of Latino groups have said they're the ones who are going to be pulled aside; they're the ones who are going to be questioned more than others simply because they're Latino.

What do you say to that?

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely not. First off, Neil, there's complete due process.

If -- in the small sample that we've already done where we know people have voted illegally, which is a crime, they'll -- if you are on that list, you will get a letter and if you show that you're a citizen, there is no issue. If you don't respond, we have to do a newspaper ad, the supervisor of elections does. If you don't respond and you go vote, you'll get to vote a provisional ballot. So, no one's going to be targeted.

We want to make sure -- look, I want to make sure everyone registers - - that has a right registers to vote and votes. But we're doing the right thing. This is -- we have people that are voting illegally in our races. That's not right.

CAVUTO: OK. Governor, thank you very much.

And, fair and balanced, we did seek a comment from the Department of Justice. And at the given time when they said they would give us a comment, their comment was no comment. They did not release a statement.

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