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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

United States: Can the ballots of dead people be counted?

US election officials regularly check death records. In many states, vital statistics agencies send them a monthly list of people who have died, which officials use to update voter registration records.

Election clerks may also verify voters’ deaths by other means, such as coordinating with departments of motor vehicles to track a canceled driver’s license, searching published obituaries, or testamentary papers of the deceased person’s estate. to process. ,

Even if a deceased voter’s ballot was mailed in error, signature verification and voter fraud laws create additional safeguards against anyone else who fills in and mails it. Voters who forged the signatures of their deceased relatives on ballot papers could face fines, probation or jail. And absentee voting requirements in some states, such as witness signatures or notarization, add an additional barrier to preventing this rare form of voter fraud.

Following the 2020 presidential election, former President Donald Trump and his supporters claimed that thousands of votes were fraudulently cast on behalf of dead voters and even named specific dead persons whose ballots were allegedly lost. But it was counted.

But these claims, spread across several states, including Arizona, Virginia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, turned out to be false.

When the Arizona Attorney General claimed that 282 votes were cast for the dead in 2020, he found that only one case was confirmed.

When Michigan Republican lawmakers checked lists of more than 200 voters allegedly dead in Wayne County, they found only two. The first was due to a clerical error in which a son was mistaken for his dead father and the second involved a 92-year-old woman who mailed her ballot too early and died four days before the election.

Whether or not votes like that are counted depends on state law.

At least 11 states – nine by statute and two depending on the attorney general’s opinion – prohibit counting the votes of absentee voters who return a ballot and die before election day, while nine states specifically The states allow this in accordance with the national convention of legislatures. Other states have remained silent on the matter.

Electoral integrity groups reviewing voter files often mistake a live voter for a dead voter if they have the same name, date of birth or place of residence, said Jason Roberts, a professor of science at the University of the North, leading to fraudulent liars. There are claims. Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“You might think it’s weird that someone with the same name and date of birth has died, but it’s actually not that strange when you think about a country of 350 million people,” Roberts said. “It happens a lot.”

There are many cases of voter fraud by impersonating a dead person. For example, a Las Vegas man admitted to voting in his late wife’s ballot in 2020 received a fine and probation for the offense. A Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to voting in his dead mother’s ballot in 2020 has been sentenced to five years’ probation.

However, Roberts said that only a small number of people attempt this type of fraud in each election, making it “very, very rare”.

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