Dead Turning Up on Voter Rolls in Connecticut

Dozens have showed up as registered voters in Connecticut, even though they died years ago.

By Troubleshooter Chris Coffey
|  Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012  |  Updated 9:58 AM EDT
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The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have uncovered dozens of examples of the names of dead people showing up as active voters on Connecticut's voter registration rolls.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have uncovered dozens of examples of the names of dead people showing up as active voters on Connecticut's voter registration rolls.

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Dozens of people are showing up as registered voters in Connecticut, even though they died several years ago.

They represent only a tiny fraction of Connecticut's registered two million voters, but no one knows for sure how they wind up registered to vote from the afterlife.

The family of Victor Baerlein had no idea his vote could still make a difference.

"My dad always took the right to vote very seriously," Tom Baerlein said.  "Guess I didn't know he took it this serious."

Victor Baerlein passed away in East Windsor in 2002, but state records show he registered to vote in 2008.  According to the state voter rolls, Victor Baerlein, a long-time New York City firefighter who retired in Connecticut, is eligible to vote in Tuesday's election.

"Whoever is voting my father's name would probably hope that he's voting the way my father would," Tom Baerlein said.  "Otherwise, he'd probably be spinning in his grave."

East Windsor officials said Baerlein's name has not been used to vote in recent elections, but they can't explain why he reappeared on their voter registry six years after he passed away.

The Troubleshooters and a team at Central Connecticut State University compared information from the Social Security Master Death Index and the current state voter registry and found more than 30 other deceased people are still registered to vote in Connecticut.  Each deceased person was found to have registered after they passed away.

Justina Dix of Bridgeport said her brother, Daniel Porter, died in 2009.  But Porter's name showed up on the voter registry in 2011.  He's still listed as an active voter.

"I miss my brother," Dix said.  "I wish he was here, but he can't vote so who was going under his name?"

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said clerical errors may be to blame.

"It's very difficult to get information about people who die out of state," Merrill said.  "When it's in state, we have the information. Usually, it gets transferred on to our voter rolls.  But not always."

Merrill said the state is not aware of ever having an incident of in-person voter fraud.

We also took the issue to the non-profit Common Cause, which is dedicated to improving state government.

"I think that voters should feel confident that the lists are up to date and I'm more worried about any deceptive practices that might be going on," said Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause Connecticut.

The state does not have the authority to remove names from the voting registry unless they hear from town voting registrars.  This is also a reason why Connecticut is pushing for a national death clearinghouse that could help prevent any clerical errors in the future.

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