Dead People, Duplicates and Felons Registered to Vote in Florida

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A recent study by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel shows thousands of ineligible voters registered to vote in Florida.

Statewide voting rolls contain names of dead people, duplicates, and convicted felons. The study even found voters registering from Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, a mental institution for the criminally insane.

According to several election officials, Florida isn't the only state that has names of ineligible voters on their rosters. It's a national problem. Several supervisors of elections have said the lists are outdated almost as soon as they're printed because people continuously move, register in another county, or change their name, and it takes time for that information to be circulated between agencies.

Florida has nearly 11 million registered voters with 67 counties responsible for keeping track of them. Walton County Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley says that's a challenging task when people don't update the Supervisor of Election’s Office.

Bobby Beasley said, "There are thousands of scenarios. Voters who have moved, voters who are convicted felons, voters who have had their rights restored. But bottom line, it's the voter themselves, it's their responsibility to let us know this. If they don't let us know this, we have no way of guessing."

Beasley says he keeps a close eye on the Walton County numbers and tries to contact unverified voters, but state law says he can't remove a voter's name until several attempts to contact the person fail over a four-year period.

"If we have no activity and two returned pieces of mail through that four-year period of two general elections, we put them on our inactive list, but we can't purge a voter 90 days before a general election."

Voting officials can also remove a name when notified by the state. Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen says he relies on this type of information.

Mark Andersen said, "There's a number of issues that could go on with the voter registration record. They could pass away and then we have to make sure a certificate. If they have passed then we have to have a copy of that, or the division tells us to remove them. We don't remove anyone without some type of proof of information."

Beasley thinks a lot of the confusion could be avoided if SSN were used as voter's identification.

"If people registered with a SSN, it's unique to each person. It would be easier to track these people."

Election officials say they expect thousands of names to be purged next year because there's no general election and more time to track down information.

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