By RUDOLPH BUSH / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas County officials raised questions Thursday about a report by the online news organization Texas Watchdog that concluded thousands of people who may be dead are listed on local voter rolls.
The report at www.texas
watchdog.org determined that as many as 6,000 names of people whose personal information matched national records of deceased individuals remain on local voter rolls.
The report also concluded that two men who died in the last two years were listed as having voted in the March Democratic primary in Dallas.
Dallas County elections administrator Bruce Sherbet said the notion that thousands of dead people remain active voters is dubious, and he questioned why the report came so close to Election Day.
He said many of the people the report identified had already been flagged to prevent voting under their names.
He acknowledged that with more than 1.2 million voters on the county's rolls, it is possible some deceased people are listed improperly. But he doesn't think the number approaches 6,000.
"The whole thing would have to be looked at very carefully before you take it at face value," he said of the Texas Watchdog report.
The county elections office gets weekly reports of deaths from the state's vital statistics office and monthly reports from Dallas County.
If those reports conclusively match a voter on file, that voter is purged from the rolls, he said.
Other names are more difficult to confirm and in many cases are placed "in suspense," leaving them technically on the voter rolls but without permission to vote, Mr. Sherbet said.
Of the 6,000 names reviewed in the Texas Watchdog report, about 3,000 were already in suspense, he said.
That suspension is intended to give the county time to clarify whether a person should be removed permanently from the rolls.
Some names may be people whose information hasn't yet been forwarded by the state or county to the elections office, Mr. Sherbet said.
Others may be people who are alive and whose personal information happens to match that of a deceased person in the national Social Security database.
And some number may indeed be deceased people who shouldn't be on the rolls, something the county will review, Mr. Sherbet said.
Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, a Republican, said he was alarmed by the number of names in question and concerned about potential voting fraud.
"That could have a big impact," he said.
He said he will ask the county elections department to investigate and try to determine whether anyone tried to vote using the identification of a dead person.
"If it shows that they did vote, there is systematic fraud being conducted by someone," he said.
Mr. Sherbet said the county has begun an investigation.
And though there is always a possibility of fraud, the county hasn't had reason to forward a case of "dead voter" fraud to the district attorney's office in at least three decades and possibly longer, Mr. Sherbet said.
"I haven't found any situations where we proved they voted. We've seen some clerical errors. We've seen some mistakes that have been made, but not any instance of someone voting under a dead person's name," he said.
Staff writer Kevin Krause contributed to this report. http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw...s.37af499.html