By Eric Shawn
Jane Drury voted last year in an election in Stonington, Conn. The only problem is, she died eight years ago.
Her daughter Jane Gumpel thought someone must have goofed.
“I was surprised because this is not possible,” she said.
But it did happen. The town clerk’s record clearly shows Drury’s vote, marked by a horizontal line poll workers put next to her name. And it turns out, Drury isn’t the only voter to apparently cast a ballot from the grave.
The issue of dead voters showing up on ballot records continues to be a problem for election administrators across the country.
Journalism professor Marcel Dufresne, at the University of Connecticut, led a class investigation into dead voters and said his group of 11 students discovered 8,558 deceased people who were still registered on Connecticut’s voter rolls. They discovered more than 300 of them appeared somehow to have cast ballots after they died.
“We have one person who appeared to have voted 17 times since he died,” Dufresne said.
Dufresne said there is no evidence of any election fraud, but the number of dead voters “shows the system is vulnerable and it shows that people who are clever and have a little cooperation in the town level, you could use this and get people to vote for people who died.”
Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is adamant that “actually no dead people voted.”
“I want to be very clear about that,” she said, explaining that while votes were cast and counted in the names of the dead, “there was no voter fraud at all in the state of Connecticut.”
“Did we have clerical errors where the wrong voter was crossed off? Yes,” she said.
But officials elsewhere have confirmed other cases in which dead people appear to have voted.
In Washington State, Republican Dino Rossi ran for governor in 2004, and lost by only 133 votes. Officials confirmed that the names of 19 dead people somehow cast ballots. Rossi is running this year for governor and reflected on his experience in 2004.
“It was the closest governor’s race in U.S. history. After the fact we found a number of dead people voted. I don’t know how they voted — you have to talk to Shirley MacLaine about that,” Rossi said.
Since the last presidential election, more than 2 million dead people have been identified, and dropped, from the nation’s voting rolls.
In Connecticut, 5,000 have been purged in the last two months. That presumably means Jane Drury won’t be voting again, even as her daughter remains stumped that a ballot was cast in her mother’s name in the first place.
“I couldn’t imagine because I didn’t think she voted — it was an impossible situation to me,” she said.
Officials say when it comes to dead voters, most of the problems are simply mistakes, not political corruption. But they admit as long as the deceased remain registered to vote, the potential for fraud is alive and well.
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