NAPLES — Florida Gov. Rick Scott knows what it's like to be told you aren't registered to vote.
The Naples Republican said in a radio interview Thursday he was forced to cast provisional ballots in 2006 after election officials removed him from the voter rolls.
The reason? Election officials said Scott had died earlier that year.
"They said I had passed away," Scott said on Tallahassee-based radio station WFLA. "I said, 'Here's my driver's license. I'm here, I'm really alive.' So they allowed me to vote provisionally."
Tim Durham, Collier County's chief deputy supervisor of elections, said Scott was required to cast provisional ballots in the 2006 primary and general elections after officials mistook him for Richard E. Scott, a Florida resident with the same birth date as the governor. That man, according to the Social Security Death Index, was a Broward County resident and died in January 2006.
"You have a person with a common name and, unusually, the exact same date of birth," Durham said. "That's where the confusion came from."
It's rare for this kind of mix-up to occur, Durham said.
The use of a provisional ballot isn't that rare, though. Durham said between 100 and 200 such ballots are cast in Collier County each election. Those ballots can be filed by someone who showed up in the wrong polling place or forgot their photo identification.
Voters are then given two days to prove they are eligible to cast their ballot.
Scott's provisional ballots were considered valid on both occasions.
The governor told the story Thursday as part of his effort to defend a statewide initiative to identify and remove noncitizens from the voter rolls. Provisional ballots are just one of the systems in place, he said, to ensure voters won't be disenfranchised.
"The system is set up so that people can vote," said Lane Wright, the governor's spokesman.
Scott's push has triggered partisan outcry and lawsuits. The U.S. Justice Department earlier this week sued Florida over the initiative, saying it is happening within 90 days of a federal election.
State officials have said as many as 182,000 registered voters may not be U.S. citizens. State officials didn't immediately release that list and instead sought access to a federal immigration database to verify matches.
The request has been rejected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The state on Monday sued the federal agency to get access to the database.
"It's very apparent that we do have a big problem," Wright said. "Out of such a small sample of voter registration records ... we have 100 people who have confirmed that they are not citizens. Fifty have voted. We know of voter fraud."
The state identified 27 people in Collier County who are registered to vote but may not be citizens. Thirteen of those have been removed from the voter rolls, while one woman has provided the documentation proving she is a citizen.
__ The Associated Press and News Service of Florida contributed to this report.