Dead people on voter lists: Is it a problem?


MARSHALL, Ill. (WTHI) – With the election less than two weeks away, the spotlight is on voter turnout. But voter databases could be skewed if those who have passed away are still on them.

County clerks like Carrie Downey work day in and day out to update the eligible voter database.

They’re busy with early voters today but year round they work to remove any person who has passed away from their voting lists.

“We’re probably the last people they think about since we don’t send them checks or anything so they don’t think to notify us,” said Clark County Clerk and Recorder Carrie Downey.

The process to remove a deceased person from the voter database isn’t as clear cut as you may think.

In Indiana, the health department or family is in charge of notifying the clerk’s office when a person passes away.

But in Illinois, the clerks are responsible for finding out that information themselves.

“We usually contact the nursing homes, watch the newspapers, keep an eye on the obituaries from there,” said Downey.

“We’re pretty good on Illinois deaths but when they die somewhere else it’s kind of hard to find them sometimes,” said Downey.

When someone moves away or dies without the family knowing, the election offices may not find out immediately. This means those who have passed away may still be in the database.

“It’s a long process but we work on it all year long trying our best to get them out of there,” said Downey.

On Tuesday, a data analysis firm found 2,500 people over the age of 110 on voting lists in Indiana.

These findings aren’t targeted as voter fraud, but rather incomplete information on the Indiana voter database.

No votes are being counted for those who have passed away, but it gives false results on the number of eligible voters who turned out to the polls.

“It makes it look bad. It inflates your numbers,” said Downey.

Illinois has recently created an “inactive” list to combat this problem. If a voter hasn’t participated in the past two general elections, they are placed on the inactive list so voter turnout is accurate.

Overall, Downey says Clark County doesn’t face the problem of dead people riddling their voting lists.

“In a small county, we have more of a handle on it. Maybe if you had 100,000 voters it would be hard,” said Downey. “But here even the in-house voters, one of the five of us know who they are.”