Man Receives Voter Card for Dead Mother

Family concerned about possibility of voter fraud

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North Texas man says he is concerned after he received a voter registration card for his mother -- two and a half years after her death. (Published Thursday, Oct 25, 2012)

    A North Texas man says he is concerned about the possibility of voter fraud after receiving a voter registration certificate for his deceased mother.

    Bill Davis and his wife, who rarely miss an election, said they were excited when their received their cards in the mail.

    But there was an extra card -- one for Bill Davis' mother, Isabel. He said he was "just kind of disgusted -- typical bureaucrats."

    His mother, who died more than two and half years ago at the age of 96, was still on the voter rolls.

    "You hear of dead people voting and stuff like that," he said. "I thought that was something of the past, but I guess there is opportunity for that."

    How could it happen? Steve Raborn, the elections administrator for Tarrant County, said voters who registered before the 1970s only had to give their name and address to register to vote.

    Raborn said Isabel Davis' registration didn't include vital information such as a Social Security number or driver's license number to cross reference in case she died.

    While the state and county courts send information over to the county to help update lists, the database work can take time and, without the vital information, names can be left on the rolls.

    "When we get information from the state agencies that provide death information on voters, often time we're not able to match it up with an actual voter because we don't have any additional criteria -- especially if it's a common name, or the address has changed or something like that," Raborn said. "If we think we see a possible match, then we'll send a letter to the voter's home asking the family member if the voter is deceased."

    The county sent a letter to Isabel Davis' last known address in 2010, essentially asking her if she was dead or alive. By then, Davis had passed away. Because she didn't respond, she was left on the rolls.

    "We have to err on the side of allowing people to vote," Raborn said. "We can't take people off the rolls because we have one uncertain bit of information that they may be deceased."

    Raborn said there are not many findings of voter fraud. He also said there are safeguards in place at the polls to make sure fraud is prevented. He noted that poll workers do check sex and age of voters.

    That's not good enough for Bill Davis. He said he wants to get his mother off the voter rolls.

    "I had to take it upon myself to notify Social Security, notify Medicare," he said. "I didn't think about notifying voter registration, and I don't think very many people would."

    The Davises, who are Republicans, said they continue to support voter identification measures in light of what happened to them.

    Steve Maxwell, the head of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, said voter ID is not the solution, even though some deceased people can still end up on the rolls.

    "It is such a small, negligible problem, that using that kind of a solution -- letting us go to a picture ID in order to accomplish this -- defeats the whole purpose of encouraging as many people to vote as you can," he said. "It's a solution in search of a problem."