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Decorated Broward War Hero Targeted In Gov. Scott's Voter Purge

DAVIE (CBSMiami) – A 91-year-old decorated World War II veteran is just one of hundreds of South Florida voters shocked to learn that they've been identified as a non-U.S. Citizen and may be ineligible to vote.

Bill Internicola appeared at a news conference at his senior retirement community Pine Island Ridge Clubhouse in Davie on Tuesday.

"I was amazed when I got the letter, I can tell you that. I've been voting since I was 18 years old and I never had any trouble," said Internicola.

Internicola, who has voted in Florida for 14 years without a problem, was joined by U.S. Reps Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, and Alcee Hastings D-Miramar who are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to stop the current purging of suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls because of inaccuracies.

"Who made the decision to put these names on a list? Why did you make that decision? When did you make that decision? And if you made that decision recently when Mr. Internicola and others received the letter, why didn't you do it a long time before this election?" asked Rep. Hastings.

Internicola, a Broward Democrat, is one of 259 Broward voters being required to prove they are citizens or be booted off the voter rolls in June, due to Gov. Scott's order to purge non-U.S. citizens from the rolls before this year's presidential elections.

"Governor Scott wants to make sure people that non-citizens are not casting ballots," said the governor's spokesman Lane Wright. "We are trying to make sure who should be voting and who should not be voting. They have a list of possible non-citizens and they are going through the process of vetting each name. They are not trying to wipe people off the voting rolls. They are vetting the list because there are inaccuracies but that is a part of the vetting process."

Deutch has called on Scott to immediately suspend the voter purge.

A coalition of civil rights and voting organizations have also asked the State of Florida to stop its push to remove non-U.S. citizens from the state's voter rolls. The coalition said federal law bans the state from removing voters from the rolls less than 90 days before a federal election. Florida will hold its primary election on August 14.

The move comes after state officials asked local election supervisors to check the status of more than 2,600 people and remove them from the rolls if they were not U.S. citizens. The state claims the move was legal and that it's obligated to remove ineligible voters.

Internicola, who is of Italian descent, is what political campaigns consider a "super voter" — a voter who regularly cast ballots, even in municipal elections. Broward has more than 500,000 registered Democrats, so the county could play a pivotal role in the outcome of a close presidential or U.S. Senate contest in November.

Internicola has been a registered voter in Broward since November 1991, according to Mary Cooney, a spokeswoman for the supervisor of elections. He has regularly cast ballots in primaries and general elections — including the 2004 and 2008 presidential contests — and in at least a couple of municipal elections.

So far, Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes has indicated that she will comply with the state's direction to remove voters who don't prove their citizenship from the list within 30 days of receiving a letter from Snipes' office which was mailed May 9. (If the notice was returned undeliverable Broward will place a legal notice and then remove their names 30 days after the notice is advertised.)

Snipes plans to hold a press conference Thursday to provide more information about updating the voter rolls.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)

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