Ohio Secretary of State John Husted is asking the federal government for access to some extremely sensitive information, according to the Plain Dealer. The fresh-faced GOPer wants a peek at the SAVE files, or Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlemen docs, which in plain old english means a list of immigration data on individuals in the country. Ostensibly, Husted says he wants to data in order to verify whether voters are actually citizens in certain situations. But that's probably not the whole story.
First off, the SAVE files are pretty controversial because they're rarely updated — that means if John Doe was a non-citizen in 2007 but gained citizenship in 2009, SAVE might not record the change. So it's an imperfect system.
Also, Ohio doesn't really need to spent a lot of time verifying whether a voter is a citizen or not. The whole idea that a suspicious voter will come to the polls and the staffers will be able to tap into SAVE is unrealistic. If you can't tell if someone is eligible or registered to vote at a particular polling site, you're not going to let them vote — status doesn't come into the picture, or at least is a good distance removed from the gate that will keep you from voting in the first place. Husted acknowledges this in the PD piece.
"From time to time, as we near the election and so forth, you'll get circumstances when a voter's eligibility is unknown or questioned," he says in the story. "Up until this point, we'd have no way to accurately determine someone's citizenship."
“Time to time”? Is it worth cracking into one of the most sensitive government databases for infrequent occasions?
Our guess? Husted is just trying to bolster GOP bona fides by jumping in the debate on whether or not a state should have access to the database in the first place. About 12 states have asked for access, specifically to filter out undocumented individuals from the voting rolls. Florida made a grab for the info, and the Department of Justice tried to put the database out of reach. The state eventually got their hands on the information, but the database remains a flashpoint in the political discussion.