Voting from the grave? In Los Angeles county, apparently so.
An investigative reporter for CBS2/KCAL9, David Goldstein, discovered hundreds of voters in Southern California who are dead. CBS2 analyzed millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State office and compared them with death records from the Social Security Administration. The result? Hundreds of so-called “dead voters.” In Los Angeles County alone, there were 215 votes from the grave.
John Cenkner passed away in Palmdale in 2003 – yet records show he was able to vote in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
“He took a lot of time choosing his candidates,” said his daughter Annette Givans. “He was a diehard Democrat, and I was thinking that if somebody was voting under his name, he’s probably rolling in his grave if they were voting Republican.”
Givens was unhappy that someone else might have casted her father’s votes. “It just astounds me. I don’t understand how anybody can get away with that,” she said.
Julita Abutin supposedly cast votes in Norwalk in 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008 – even though she died in 2006.
“It’s impossible,” said her daughter, Marivic. “Somebody’s taking advantage of the situation.”
CBS reports it remains unclear how the dead voters voted, but 86 were registered Republicans and 146 were Democrats, including Cenkner.
The Los Angeles County Registrar said it removed “1,200 to 2,000 deceased records from the database per month,” but CBS2 found 212 of the 215 dead voters from Los Angeles County on the Registrar’s website were still registered and eligible to vote.
Ellen Swensen, with the nationwide voter-rights group “True the Vote,” said: “It’s very troubling because it basically dilutes the voice of the lawful voter. What it does is every single vote that’s cast by a dead voter actually cancels out a vote of a lawful voter cause if they voted for one candidate and you voted let’s say for another, your vote got canceled out.”
This kind of sloppy records-keeping was supposed to change after the hanging chad incident in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which mandated sweeping reforms, including a statewide voter registration system that would eliminate ineligible voters.
However California is distinguished as the only state still not compliant with the act, something Secretary of State Alex Padilla hopes to change by later this year.
J. Christian Adams with the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said: “You’re not supposed to have dead people on the rolls. The problem is California has been the most derelict state in the country in implementing statewide databases that are required under federal law. They just blew it off for over a decade.”
But voting from beyond the grave is not new, nor is it limited to California. For example, NBC New York reported 270 deceased voters managed to cast a ballot after their deaths in Nassau County. In 2012, Politifact reported 200 dead voters in Texas.
A 2012 report by the Pew Center on the States found more than 1.8 million dead people still registered to vote, with another 24 million registrations either invalid or inaccurate.
In November 2012, the Hillary Clinton campaign’s general counsel, Marc Elias, was linked to an investigation involving dead people joining the voter rolls in the swing state of Ohio.
“It’s very sad that people can just take somebody’s name and go out and vote for them,” concludes Givans.