Voter registration forms addressed to deceased residents

Nonprofits have no way of knowing who is unregistered or dead

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

Two Washington, D.C. nonprofit groups have been sending Florida voter registration forms to the families of people who have been dead for months or in some cases years.

Nancy Hecht, a certified financial expert, said it happened to her and she is convinced the mistakes pose a threat for widespread voter fraud.

Hecht received a voter application for her father-in-law at her Seminole County home last month.
He died five years ago and never moved from his New Jersey home to Florida.

“The state of Florida is asking my dead father-in-law to register to vote,” she said. “It just blew my mind, how does that happen?”

Hecht said because she has her father-in-law’s personal information she could easily cheat the system. While she stresses she wouldn’t, she argued someone else could.

Page Gardner the president of The Center for Voter Information and the Voter Participation Center, told News 6  while the nonprofit organizations have been sending thousands of voter applications to potential unregistered Florida voters since 2013, they have no way of knowing who is unregistered or dead.

“No state provides a list of eligible unregistered individuals," Gardner said. “No state provides the list of deceased individuals.”

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson said the state applications are legitimate,
but neither organization is sanctioned by the county or state.

“I commend these groups for taking the opportunity to try and register folks," Anderson said. “But they need to do a better job of cleansing it, (the data).”

A  source who spoke with News 6 on background, said there are free tools available in Tallahassee that provide an up-to-date voter file, but Gardner is right that "no state has a list of unregistered voters or deceased people.”

Anderson said the replies from the families of the dead are “heart-wrenching.” 

He shared roughly 200 returned applications with News 6, some dating back to 2016, with the word "deceased" written in large letters, some in black some in red across the front of the voter registration forms.

One application had the address crossed out and replaced with the word "heaven."

Voter registration experts tell News 6 both organizations “should be able to check voter status if they are willing to invest in better quality lists."

There is also "deceased suppression software" that has been on the market for more than two decades.
News 6 checked with Seminole County and confirmed the organizations have not requested voter data from the Supervisor of Elections office.

During a satellite interview last week, Gardner stressed her organizations’ intent is to reach minorities and other voters who do not understand the system.

She said her organizations have helped register more than 500,000 Florida residents over the last six years.

“We would like to meet with the folks in Seminole County and see what we can do to work together," Gardner said.

All 67 counties offer easy online options to check your voter registration status or to register to vote.

The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office has a tool that allows you to verify if voter election mail is legitimate. Click here to access the information.

To check your voter registration status through the Florida Department of State, click here.

For more information on the nonprofit organizations, visit centerforvoterinformation.org or voterparticipation.org.
 

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