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Hispanic Voter Flap Leads To Calls For Senator's Ouster

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - Most people know that you must be a US Citizen to vote, but apparently, that message missed one Central Florida state legislator. A member of the committee that is overseeing the drawing of new congressional districts, he's demanded the process be held up until it's certified hispanic voters there are legal.

Senator Alan Hays started the flap, after lawmakers looked at creating a heavily Hispanic district in the Orlando area. Census figures show an explosion in Hispanic residents can be credited for the population increase which caused Florida to merit two new congressional districts.

The Hispanic residents do not have to be voters, citizens, or even legal to be counted for the purpose of congressional districts. The only consideration is total population.

However, that ticks off Hays.

At a Senate Reapportionment Committee meeting this week, Sen. Alan Hays said lawmakers should make sure Hispanic residents are citizens before drawing up such districts.

He added that everyone knows many Hispanics are "not legal."

One Hispanic lawmaker says Hays should apologize. Another says he should remove himself from the committee. Both are Democrats.

Hays did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, but earlier he claimed his home county's supervisor of elections told him people don't have to be citizens to vote, a statement that official denied.

Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa said Hays is calling for a "witch hunt."

Cruz and Rep. Luis Garcia of Miami noted Orlando area Hispanics are mostly Puerto Ricans. They are citizens because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.


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