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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dead voters’ names still found on rolls

By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
Town clerks and registrars of voters across the state have some explaining to do to election enforcement officials for carrying dead residents’ names on voter lists.
Av Harris, a spokesman in the office of Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, Wednesday said its review of voter lists in the last three weeks found a number of occasions when either the town clerks or registrars had death certification information, but failed to remove deceased voters.
Harris said instances and communities where this occurred included: 209 in New Haven, 131 in West Haven, 20 in Wallingford, 29 in Madison, 11 in North Branford and 6 in North Haven, among others.
Across the state, others remained on a voter list because they died out of state and the information wasn’t sent to Connecticut. The majority of those have now been verified, although Bysiewicz’s said this will be the challenge for the future, to develop a system to more accurately handle such cases.
Journalism students at the University of Connecticut published a report in April that said 8,558 dead people, based on the state’s public health master death file, continued to be carried on voter lists.
At the direction of Bysiewicz, local registrars were asked to look into this and clean up the lists for the November presidential race.
In the past three weeks, the registrars found that 2,411 of the 8,558 had already been removed from the active voter list, while another 438 had been removed between the time the students investigated and subsequently published their story.
Since April, Bysiewicz said an additional 4,745 voters have been verified as deceased and are off the rolls.
The majority, 63 percent, were verified through death certificates held by municipalities, while the remaining 37 percent were done through new Internet sources, such as legacy.com and obits.com, as well as newspaper obituaries and probate records. Registrars will continue to use these sources in the future.
To the surprise of 45 state voters, they had reached an early demise in the eyes of election officials and had been incorrectly listed as deceased.
This leaves 1,451 active voters listed as deceased by the public health department, but not yet verified. The towns have been asked to canvass those people, and if there is no response, they will be moved to inactive voter status.
Bysiewicz said contrary to the UConn report, 300 dead people did not vote. She said records alluding to this were actually clerical errors or mistakes involving family members with similar names.

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