Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dead Voters in Nevada County

Through some local volunteers making phone calls to local registered voters, they discovered a substantial number of deceased individuals who were still on the Nevada County voter rolls. This occurrence gave them great concern, so they contacted me in order to do an analysis of the current Nevada County voter rolls in order to ascertain whether those deceased individuals were still registered and voting.

They obtained a voter roll dated August 15, 2012, from the Nevada County Elections office. We compared the oldest 400 voters with the social security death index, and then verified the results that we could by getting some of the death certificates from the Nevada County Recorder's office and other research. In Nevada County, California, the recorder (custodian of death certificates) is also the registrar of voters. The research was done by one person checking one person at a time and took 10 hours. It is possible to check the entire list automatically against the social security death index, but it costs about $600. Personally, I did not want to pay $600 to search the whole list.

What we discovered is as follows:

1. Out of the 400 oldest voters in Nevada County (we have about 60,000 registered voters in our small county), we found 31 deceased registered voters who died between 2001 and 2012.

2. Out of those 31 deceased registered voters, there were 15 permanent absentees deceased voters (vote by mail).

3. Also out of the 31 deceased registered voters and according to Nevada County records, we found two of those 31 who actually voted after they died – one decedent (who died on November 19, 2005) voted twice by absentee (2008 primary & 2009 special election) and one decedent (who died on April 5, 2007) voted in person in the most recent primary election (2012).

It is my understanding that our local officials do not deny that these 31 deceased people were on the voter rolls as of August 15, 2012. It is my understanding that our local officials deny that someone cast a ballot in person for one decedent. They stated that it was some sort of bar code error, but they have provided no evidence. They do not know how the other decedent cast a mail ballot in 2008 & 2009 or why he was still receiving one.

Because a mail ballot was received and cast for a deceased individual, this instance demonstrates a lack of proper oversight in comparing signatures of the actual voters to the signatures on the registration cards. Apparently, the county's electronic signature scanner does not work as well as they assert. How could the signature of the deceased individual possibly match the one on the ballot which was cast?

Bottom Line: We have potentially hundreds of deceased individuals on our voter rolls locally, and thousands of deceased individuals on our voter rolls statewide.

First, the policy in the Nevada County elections office needs to change. If from my home computer and with limited resources, I can do an accurate analysis, why is not being done by the registrar of voters?

Second, there are multiple reports of individuals not receiving mail ballots and one report of an individual receiving two mail ballots. Why are live people not receiving ballots, but deceased individuals are?

The foundation of American democracy is founded upon fair and accurate elections. Election Day is a very special day - we are all equal. A single ballot does not know race, gender, age, or nationality. One person - one vote is the definition of equality. If we are having dead people casting votes in Nevada County, we have a problem that goes to the very foundation of our system.

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