It’s happening: Lawsuit filed alleging 21,000 dead people on Pennsylvania’s voter rolls

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HARRISBURG, PA — A lawsuit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) on Thursday alleges at least 21,000 dead people are on Pennsylvania’s voter rolls and that the state failed to “reasonably maintain” voter registration records under federal and state laws in time for the 2020 presidential election.

According to the lawsuit, about 92 percent of the 21,000 dead people on Pennsylvania’s voter rolls died sometime before October 2019. About 216 dead people show voting credits after federally listed dates of death in 2016 and 2018.

 

The lawsuit alleges:

“As of October 7, 2020, at least 9,212 registrants have been dead for at least five years, at least 1,990 registrants have been dead for at least ten years, and at least 197 registrants have been dead for at least twenty years.

“Pennsylvania still left the names of more than 21,000 dead individuals on the voter rolls less than a month before one of the most consequential general elections for federal officeholders in many years.”

PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a press release:

“This case is about ensuring that those deceased registrants are not receiving ballots. This case isn’t complicated.

“For nearly a year, we’ve been offering specific data on deceased registrants to Pennsylvania officials for proper handling ahead of what was expected to be a tight outcome on Election Day.

“When you push mail voting, your voter list maintenance mistakes made years ago will come back to haunt in the form of unnecessary recipients and nagging questions about unreturned or outstanding ballots.”

In addition, PILF noted that 92 percent of deceased registrants died before October 2019; 216 showed voting credits after federally listed dates of death in 2016 and 2018; 114 had established federally listed dates of death; and 21,000 were deceased registrants on Pennsylvania’s voter roll as of October 2020.

PILF stated in the press release:

“The Foundation seeks relief under Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which requires officials to make ‘reasonable efforts’ to maintain voter lists and offers a private right to file a lawsuit if standards are not met.

“The Public Interest Legal Foundation is leading the nation in enforcing election integrity laws and the National Voter Registration Act, having brought cases in North Carolina, Virginia Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Texas, and Maine and filed amicus briefs in litigation across the nation.

“The case was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The case number is No. 1:20-cv-01905. The attorneys for the Public Interest Legal Foundation are Sue Becker, John Eastman, and Bradley J. Schlozman. Linda A. Kerns serves as local counsel.”

In May, Pennsylvania election officials admitted that duplicate ballots were mailed out to registered voters.

Judicial Watch, a foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and law, sued Pennsylvania for allegedly having 800,000 inactive voters on their state voter rolls.

Dead people appear to be voting in other states as well.

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On Nov. 2, New York Post reported that ballots were mailed to the New York City Board of Elections (BOE) in the name of dead voters. Records show that the elections board received an absentee ballot from a Frances Reckhow of Staten Island, a registered Democrat.

The BOE mailed an absentee ballot requested by Frances M. Reckhow of Bedell Avenue on Sept. 24. Reckhow supposedly mailed the ballot back on Oct. 6, and the BOE received it and declared it valid on Oct. 8, tracking records show according to New York Post.

However, Frances Reckhow, who was born on July 6, 1915 actually died in 2012, according to an obituary filed with the Staten Island Advance.

New York Post gave details about another case:

“An absentee ballot was also mailed from a Gertrude Nizzere, also a registered Democrat, who was born on Feb. 7, 1919, and would be 101 today.

“The BOE said someone identifying as Gertrude Nizzere, with an address of Shore Road in Brooklyn, requested an absentee ballot in September.

“Records show the Nizzere ballot was mailed on Oct. 9 and it was received by the BOE on Oct.13, which declared the ballot valid on Oct. 25.

“But after further review, the agency on Oct. 30 declared the Nizzere ballot ‘Invalid’ because a search found the voter was ‘Deceased,’ its records show.”

However, Nizzere died on July 4, 2016 and is buried in Calverton Cemetery.

Staten Island GOP chairman Brendan Lantry told New York Post:

“People should be on the alert for dead people voting. There are people using the names of dead voters to cast ballots.

“I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re requesting that the NYPD and the Staten Island District Attorney’s Office investigate.”

Filling out a ballot in a dead person’s name is fraud and has resulted in prosecutions elsewhere, including recently on Long Island, where a voter was accused of forging his dead mom’s name on an absentee ballot, according to the New York Post. The Board of Elections said it was looking into the matter. The absentee ballots don’t get counted until six days after Election Day in New York.

President Trump has raised concerns about mail-in balloting, including after the city BOE was forced to resend nearly 100,000 absentee ballots to Brooklyn voters after a vendor provided the wrong return envelopes with other people’s names.

Stephen Ansolabehere, a professor of government at Harvard University and an expert in elections, told USA TODAY that voter files are updated by county officials regularly and that in any given year, it is possible for a fraction of people to either move or die.

Ansolabehere added that almost every election office uses national change-of-address information and other data to identify those people and update files. If a dead person is sent a ballot, signature requirements are another round of fraud protection, noting that many county election officials have discarded ballots due to nonmatching signatures.

Ansolabehere overall said there is no evidence to support the claims that there is a lot of voter fraud associated with dead people receiving ballots:

“Occasionally, there are cases where somebody orders an absentee ballot and passes away, and then a relative goes ahead and votes that ballot.”

A 2016 study by researchers at Dartmouth College focused on noncitizen populations, dead people, timing of results and voting technology found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election nor any obvious abnormalities in states flagged as potentially problematic.

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