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Milions of citizens voted by mail in the California election. Here's how mail-in ballots are letting dead people vote.

California election: Where did the 400,000 ballots sent to dead people go?

While millions of California residents chose to vote by mail in this past presidential election, some of these voting ballots may not have been delivered to their rightful mailboxes. A recent study from the non-partisan Election Integrity Project California (EIPCa) revealed nearly 400,000 voting ballots were sent to people in California who either moved or passed away. 

EIPCa’s president Linda Paine has stated that the Secretary had rejected these findings multiple times already earlier this year. “We now encourage all candidates and parties to contact the Secretary of State to obtain our report, and to work with local election officials to ensure that only lawful votes are counted in November.”

So why does this matter? 

Because thousands of mail-in voting ballots haven’t been delivered correctly, other individuals could theoretically vote in place of people who died or moved away. This delegitimizes the voting process, either through real election fraud or from the perception the final count wasn’t legit. In a time of such high political tensions, it’s crucial for officials to investigate & fix any errors in the voting process. 

Evelyn Swenson from EIPCa emphasized the high risk of possible dishonesty in the election due to these mail-in ballots, asserting “What kind of confidence do the people of California have in the system when they’re getting ballots from their deceased loved one 10 years ago or someone who never lived there or someone who moved 10 years ago? That hurts the confidence in the election”. 

Is there anything that can be done to prevent this? 

The L.A. County Registrar explained “a voter record is made inactive only when mail sent to the voter is returned undeliverable from the post office or through notification of a change of address. If you get a ballot in the mail not addressed to you, mark it return to sender. Voter no longer lives there.”

However, a resident named Pam Harnden in Monrovia claimed she’s been receiving ballots from the past owners of her home, who have lived in Texas for the past fifteen years. Despite marking them as “return to sender” every single year, she asserted they still show up in her mail. 

While these issues remain concurrent, the registrar’s office vowed to watch for fraud, including checking each voter’s signature and ensuring no one votes twice. Nevertheless, it may be more difficult to check if a resident has moved to another state, and the question surrounding the ballots of the deceased in California still remains unanswered. EIPCa encourages anyone to report any irregular ballots received to their website. 

Dead voters: Myth or Fact? 

While these conspiracies may still ring true for some skeptics, experts & professional studies claim ballots sent to dead people have no effect on voter fraud. 

The National Conference of State Legislature’s website explains how election officials have to follow a strict process, including ensuring individual ballot signatures match other documents on files, specifically their voter registration record. Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State, also explained to USA TODAY that forgery is rarely attempted, and most are just marked as “deceased”.  

Lorraine Minnite, the author of “The Myth of Voting Fraud” and a political science professor at Rutgers University assured USA TODAY that those who claim the deceased can vote are referring to voting registration lists, which is deceiving since election officials are regularly cleaning up such lists – despite it taking some time.

More experts weigh in

Stephen Ansolabehere, a government professor at Harvard University, reiterates that election officials will always check for matching signatures. Even if a ballot from a deceased voter is received, officials are required to do the most to ensure fraud protection. If signatures don’t match up, the fraudulent ballots will be discarded

USA TODAY verifies the process of determining a signature match is done by election officials, who are often assisted by secure technology & bipartisan teams. Many of these officials also go through training for preventing voting fraud. Also, any voter’s ballot suspected as fraudulent are first given the opportunity to provide more verification before they’re considered to be officially counted or discarded. 

So while it may be true that plenty of voting ballots are showing up in dead people’s mailboxes, studies & experts have already assured Americans that there’s nothing to be worried about. Due to strict processes election officials are required to carry out, most of these ballots will end up being marked as “deceased” ensuring us no ghosts are participating in our elections! 

What are your thoughts and concerns on these thousands of wrongfully mailed-out voting ballots in California? Do you believe in the integrity of our voting system? Let us know in the comments below. 

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