About 40 people who are registered to vote in Collier and Lee counties are not citizens and need to be removed from the rolls, according to state officials.
As part of a statewide crackdown on illegal voters, the Department of State announced Wednesday there are 2,600 people in the process of being removed from the voter rolls across Florida. That includes 27 people in Collier County and 13 people in Lee.
Earlier this year, the Daily News reported that a handful of non-citizens, who were identified through refusal responses on their jury summonses, were on the voter registration rolls in both counties. Since then, state and county officials have scoured other sources of voter registration — driver license registrations and in-person sign-ups at elections offices — and identified more non-citizens on the voter rolls.
In April, letters were sent to the 27 Collier residents on the list requiring they prove their citizenship, said Tim Durham of the Supervisor of Elections Office. They have 30 days to respond. Immediately, two people admitted to not being citizens, he said, and have been removed from the rolls.
Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington said certified letters were sent last week to the 13 Lee residents on the list.
Harrington said five of the 13 people on the Lee list voted in the last three years. Durham said none of the 27 people on the Collier list voted in the last three years.
Voting without being a citizen and registering to vote under fraudulent conditions are third-degree felonies. But Durham said the statute of limitations is three years.
Both Harrington and Durham said they constantly add and remove people from voter rolls. Convicted felons, people deemed mentally incapacitated by court order and those who have died are removed once the elections office is notified, or verifies the information through various databases.
One way non-citizens can mistakenly register to vote is when they fill out a driver license application. On the application there is a box asking if the applicant wants to register to vote, Durham said. The elections offices do not have access to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records, and may not be aware when people inadvertently register to vote when getting a license.
Durham said one of the two people in Collier who admitted to not being a citizen is a woman from Canada who told Durham she believed she had to check the voter registration box in order to get her license.
"What they may have to do is set up some type of code for those who may be here legally and can get a DL, but are not eligible to be registered to vote," Harrington said.