ROVAC President Addresses Dead Voters – Media Remains Dead To Larger Issues

George Cody, President Registrars Of Voters Association Connecticut, responded to the Dead Voters Issue with a letter to the Hartford Courant <read>

Connecticut and the registrars are stuck between a rock and a hard place — aggressively clean up the database and risk dropping voters incorrectly — or demand clear evidence to drop a person from the rolls to avoid disenfranchisement.

Names are removed from the active rolls upon positive evidence of a change in status or residency. Proof positive is required to make changes in status. Registrars use several methods to seek out information. When notified of a voters death, they make every effort to verify the information through obituaries, death certificate records in the town clerk’s office or through local probate records. There is often a time gap in this information and, as the article points out, registrars do not have regular access to state and federal records. The time required to match and verify the information might lead to a delay in a voter’s final removal from the rolls, but the status of these voters is changed to inactive during the verification process.

When voters move out of state or town, their former town of residence is not necessarily notified, resulting in only anecdotal information…

The subsequent follow-up done by the students appears to have found clerical problems, rather than any evidence of potential fraud. Connecticut citizens can also rest assured that all voters are asked to present identification at all elections or to sign a statement about eligibility prior to voting. The Courant’s reporter has been kind enough to supply a list of the questionable names. This list will be disseminated to the towns for follow-up. We only wish we had this list earlier to make corrections and provide input to the study other than post-study comments.

Clerical problems do occur. When voters move out of town without notifying their former town, the chain of information is broken. They will often remain listed as active voters until we receive corrective information. If that move is out of state, notification is at best infrequent. Mistakes based on duplicate or similar names or incorrect post-election entry of who voted is another source of confusion.

We look forward to working with the list provided to further clean our lists. The centralized voter database has contributed to addressing in-state moves, but the real solution is with the voters and their families. If there is a change in any voter’s address or status, notify your registrar so corrective action can be taken.

We would like better data, but we are sympathetic to the registrars’ challenges on this issue. We are also interested in the Media’s and the Secretary of the State’s aggressive response to this issue in contrast to the much more significant issue of post-election audit integrity.

With the dead voter issue we are talking about 300 possible errors between 1994 and 2007. In just the last post-election audit we are talking about chain of custody lapses in several towns and 304 ballots missing in just one municipality in just one election. Perhaps it has to do with the media response to the two issues. While there has been a flurry of articles in the Connecticut press on the dead voters report, to our knowledge the mainstream media has yet to publish a single word on the results of the post-election audits of the November Election and the February Primary. Also missing is media concern with significant quality control issues in programming and testing elections also uncovered by researchers at the the University of Connecticut.

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2 responses to “ROVAC President Addresses Dead Voters – Media Remains Dead To Larger Issues”

  1. The BRAD BLOG : 'Daily Voting News' For April 26 and 27, 2008

    […] CT: ROVAC President Addresses Dead Voters – Media Remains Dead To Larger Issues http://www.ctvoterscount.org/?p=193 […]

  2. ct registrar

    As I pointed out in my Letter to the editor, the problem is less about Registrars, Town Clerks, or the SOTS not doing their jobs; but more about the lack of, or delay, in getting definative information on deaths. State law and Registrars of Voters are committed to protecting voters rights, with an intherrant of outdated voter records and files.

    This is why voters showing identification at the polls is so important. Current law allows Registrars of voters to change a voters status to ‘inactive’ if we suspect that a voter has either moved, died, or if we can not confirm their residence. Any voter can be reinstated by showing identification or proof of residency when they vote. This is a powerfull tool in ‘cleaning’ the files, yet is not intended as to be intimidating or restrictive.

    Voter response to the annual canvass is the best way to minimize this problem. Every town conducts a canvass of voters each spring which entails verifying continued residency and address through several methods. The canvass is conducted through either the NCOA (National Chjange of Address) system of the US Post Office, or by locally mailing returnable cards, or by canvassing neighborhoods, or by a combination of the above. If cards are returned undeliverable by the post office, a phone follow-up is the usual practice. If the Registrar has evidence that a voter has moved or is no longer at an address (Deceased?), than a returnable notice of confirmation is mailed to the voter. If this is either returned or is unanswered, then the voter is changed to an inactive status for four years or until corrective information is available.

    Getting back to the unavailabillity of death certificates, out of state deaths are slow to be reported if at all. resources include Death certificates, family, probate records, and obituaries. State deatrh recoprds are not definative in that they rely on filings from the Town Clerks, who themselves are at the mercy of getting the certificates.

    While we can tighten up the process, there is no easy or complete solution.

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