Florida governor mistaken for dead in 2006 vote

TALLAHASSEE, Florida Thu Jun 14, 2012 12:46pm EDT

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida's governor, who is leading a disputed purge of voter registration rolls, had to cast a provisional ballot in 2006 because officials mistakenly thought he was dead, election officials said on Thursday.

Governor Rick Scott was required to use a provisional ballot in the 2006 primary and general elections because Collier County election officials had received a Social Security Death Index Death Record that led them to believe he had died on January 27, 2006.

In fact the deceased was Richard E. Scott, who had the same birthday as the governor, December 1, 1952. The governor's full name is Richard Lynn Scott.

Election officials verified that Scott was among the living and his ballots were counted.

"I've been here for more than seven years and it's the first time I am aware of somebody who was removed for being deceased and it was a mistake," said Tim Durham, Collier County deputy election supervisor. "It was the exact same name, Florida resident, identical date of birth."

Scott took office in January 2011. Spokesman Lane Wright said the incident underscores the governor's contention that his push to purge the voting rolls of ineligible voters will not prevent eligible voters from casting ballots.

Florida's provisional ballot process allows contested voters to cast ballots and requires local election officials to verify their votes within 30 days.

"The system is set up so that people can vote," Wright said.

Over the past several weeks, the Republican governor has been at the center of the storm as state and federal agencies battle over a Scott-backed attempt to purge ineligible voters from the rolls. The Florida Secretary of State and the U.S. Department of Justice have traded lawsuits over the issue.

Critics said the Scott administration's effort to purge ineligible non-citizens from Florida's voter rolls relies on faulty data that threatens to disenfranchise legitimate voters. A federal court blocked enforcement of a Scott-supported law that put "harsh and impractical" limits on voter registration drives.

(Editing by Jane Sutton and Doina Chiacu)

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