Nine thousand citizens in Harris County, Texas recently received letters warning them their voter registrations may be cancelled because they might be dead. If they were in fact still alive, these voters had 30 days to respond or be purged from the rolls.
But on Monday, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and voter registrar Don Sumners announced he would not purge any of the contested names from the voter roll, at least until after the election. After receiving about 300 complaints from the allegedly deceased voters, Sumner decided the list of names compiled by the Texas Secretary of State was too unreliable.
“We’re not even going to process any of the cancellations until after the election. Because we’ve gotten such a response from people that say that they are still alive,” he said.
While the state regularly purges dead voters from the rolls using data from the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas passed a bill requiring the Secretary of State to use data from the Social Security Administration to widen the net. The Houston Chronicle reports:
“The process is nothing new,” [Secretary of State spokesman Rich Parsons] said. “What’s new is the use of the Social Security Administration’s death master file. The Social Security Administration, as I understand it, had made clear to our office that they don’t guarantee or provide any assurance of the accuracy of their list.” [...]
In some cases, the voter’s birth date, name, or other identifying data is considered a strong enough match to death records to remove the voter from the roll automatically; when the match is weaker, the voter is sent a letter giving him an opportunity to prove he is alive. Last week’s batch mailing was unusually large, local and state officials said.
The dead voter is a popular phantom in voter fraud lore. South Carolina launched an investigation in the winter but could find no evidence of dead people voting.