Congressional Candidate: Displaced Puerto Ricans Shouldn't Register to Vote in Florida

A Florida congressional candidate is facing criticism after saying hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico shouldn't be allowed to register to vote in the state.

Republican John Ward, who's running for the 6th district in northeast Florida, made the comments last month at a GOP club forum.

"I don't think they should be allowed to register to vote and it's not lost on me that I think the Democrat party's really hoping that they can change the voting registers in a lot of counties and districts and I don't think they should be allowed to do that," Ward said in a video from the forum posted to YouTube.

"I think the situation's improving a lot there and where I'm going with that comment is we should be looking to put the Puerto Ricans back in their homes," Ward said in the video. "The idea they can come to the mainland United States, I don't necessarily have a problem with that but we should be thinking about it in terms of getting them back home and providing the capital and resources to rebuild Puerto Rico which I honestly think is where they belong."

Ward received criticism from his primary opponent and Florida Democratic Party after making the remarks. On Monday, he clarified his comments in an interview with Politico, saying Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and should be allowed to register to vote in Florida if they decide to become permanent residents of the state.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans came to Florida after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year.

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