Difference between revisions of "Dead people voting"

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{{Vote fraud by state}}
{{Vote fraud by state}}
[[Category:Terms and definitions]]
[[Category:Types of vote fraud]]
[[Category:Types of vote fraud]]

Revision as of 10:03, 23 August 2013

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Dead people voting is a type of election fraud that occurs when the name of a deceased person remains on a state's official list of registered voters and a living person fraudulently casts a ballot in that name.

The extent to which this type of vote fraud occurs is not known. If, after an election, a reporter examines the publicly available list of who voted in the election and finds from other evidence (such as the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File") that there is good reason to believe that some of the names on the list of those who voted are the names of people who are dead, it can be established that "dead people voted." Such painstaking analyses are expensive and cumbersome.

It is easier to determine how many names of deceased people still appear on official voter registration lists than it is to determine how many (if any) actual votes were fraudulently cast in the name of a deceased person.

Some recent examples of elections in which actual fraudulent votes were cast on behalf of dead people include a 2005 state senate election in Tennessee that was decided by fewer than 20 votes; in this case, a post-election verification process established that two fraudulent votes were cast on behalf of dead people. Three election workers were indicted, and the results of the election were voided. The mayoral election in Miami in 1997 was nullified by a judge because of widespread fraud, including a number of established cases of fraudulent votes cast in the name of dead people. Election inspectors looking at the 1982 gubernatorial election in Illinois estimated that as many as 1 in 10 ballots cast during the election were fraudulent, including votes by the dead.[1]

Names of deceased on registration lists

When the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York did a 2006 analysis of how names of deceased people were still on New York's official list of registered voters, it conducted the assessment by matching "the names, dates of birth and ZIP codes of all listed voters in New York's database of 11.7 million voter registration records against the same information in the Social Security Administration's 'Death Master File,' a database of 77 million records of deaths dating to 1937." That study resulted in a final estimate of as many as 77,000 dead people on its rolls, and that as many as 2,600 of them had cast votes from the grave.[1]

Episodes in 2008


In October, KTVU Channel 2 cross-checked California's state death registry record across voter lists in the nine Bay Area counties, finding that in eight elections in the last ten years, "232 people with death certificates had voted after they had died – some more than once." 153 of these cases were from one county, Alameda. Karin MacDonald, the director of the Election Administration Research Center at UC-Berkeley, said "Probably what we're looking at is a lot of administrative error. There may very well be someone in there that somebody has voted for. Absolutely."

Dave MacDonald, the Registrar of Voters for Alameda County, said that his office attempts to keep the list of registered voters updated through the process of obtaining a file from the department of health "once or twice a year of everyone who's died in California and then we apply that to our voter registration database." He said he believes the irregularities on the voter list have to do with bookkeeping errors.[2]


Election officials in Connecticut removed names from the state's voter rolls after journalism students found that thousands of dead people were still registered to vote. After conducting their own investigation, students at the University of Connecticut said this spring that about 8,500 dead people remained registered to vote. The Connecticut Secretary of State worked with local registrars to remove more than 5,200 of those names from the rolls. The deaths of about 1,300 people on the students' list could not be confirmed, though they were moved to the "inactive" list. But 45 of the "dead" voters were actually alive. That highlights the balancing act undertaken by state officials, who recognize the potential for fraud when dead people remain registered to vote, but must also ensure that eligible citizens are able to exercise their right to vote.[3]


A study conducted by the Florida Sun Sentinel in late October 2008 found:

  • More than 65,000 ineligible and duplicate voters on Florida's registration rolls.
  • 600 dead people on the list.[4]


The ACORN organization registered a dead man in Indiana.[5]


Madison County, Mississippi has 123% more registered voters than people over the age of 18. 486 people on the list of registered voters are over 105. 190,000 new voters have registered for the 2008 election.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says, "It is terrible. Combined with the fact that we don't have voter ID in Mississippi, anybody can show up at any poll that happens to know the people who have left town or died -- and go vote for them. Whenever we have a third party determined by payment, for example, as they did in Benton County -- 'walking-around' money -- and they determine what that vote is going to be, they've taken your vote, whether they may have voted like you would have or not, they've still thwarted the process and they've still have taken your vote away from you."[6],[7]

Rhode Island

CBS News Issued a report that Rhode Island is one of nineteen states according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York Law School has claimed that Rhode Island is ignoring a law that prohibits states from "purging" voters 90 days before an election. Rhode Island Election Officals disagree with the report claiming that their own state law against illegal purging stops the voter roll purging problem.[8]

States and counties regularly update their voter registration rolls for accuracy, removing people who have moved, died, or committed a felony. It is known as "voter purging." However, there are no national standards for the process, and as a result, the cleaning up of voter rolls is not as precise as it should be and eligible voters are often wrongly removed.[8]

"What's wrong with the process is it's happening in secret. It's happening with no accountability," Michael Waldman, the center’s executive director, told CBS News.[8]


Dallas County

Melvin Porter, although he died in January 2007, cast a vote in the March 4, 2008 Democratic primary in Dallas County. A subsequent investigation by Texas Watchdog turned up the names of 6,000 dead voters on the Dallas County list of registered voters.[9]

Harris County

More than 4,000 people's names are listed both on Harris County’s voter rolls and also in a federal database of death records, a Texas Watchdog analysis has found.[10]

Dozens have apparently cast ballots from beyond the grave, records since 2004 show. One expert says the number of deceased names used to cast ballots may be higher than what Texas Watchdog’s analysis found. Instances of dead voters’ names being used to cast ballots were most frequent in three elections, the November 2004 general election, the November 2006 general election and the March 2008 Democratic primary, the analysis found.[10]

Episodes in 2006

David S. Stairs Sr. is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Beacon. Stairs died in 1998, but his last recorded vote was in 2002. (Darryl Bautista/Journal photo)

New York

A study by the Poughkeepsie Journal in October 2006 of the state's then-new statewide database found that the list contained as many as 77,000 dead people on its rolls, and that as many as 2,600 of them had cast votes from the grave.

The analysis by the Poughkeepsie newspaper matched names, dates of birth and ZIP codes in the state's database of 11.7 million voter registration records against the same information in the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File," a database of 77 million records of deaths dating to 1937.[1]


  • In 2006, the Tennessee State Senate voted to nullify the election of Ophelia Ford after an investigation revealed that three poll workers had faked votes in her behalf, including at least two votes cast in the name of dead people.

Episodes in 2004


See also: Vote fraud in Georgia

In October 2009, former Dodge County Sheriff Lawton Douglas Jr. and two co-defendants pleaded not guilty to federal vote-buying and conspiracy charges related to elections in 2004. Douglas was indicted in July 2009 on two counts of conspiracy and four counts of vote buying. Olin Norman “Bobo” Gibson of Helena was indicted on the same six counties. Thedy Deneen McLeod is charged with two counts of conspiracy.

Douglas is accused of giving money to Gibson, McLeod and others to pay people to vote for him.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Leon Barfield said that the government is charging Douglas, Gibson and McLeod with conspiracy to “buy votes and have persons vote more than once”.[11]

Deceased voter statistics by state


Template:Vote fraud by state