More Than 349,000 Dead Registrants Remain on Voter Rolls, Report Finds

Vote-by-mail ballots are shown in U.S. Postal service sorting trays the King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Wash., south of Seattle, on Aug. 5, 2020. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

  • A new report suggests that nearly 350,000 deceased people remain on the voting rolls nationwide.
  • According to the Public Interest Legal Foundation, North Carolina led the country in 2016 and 2018 in the number of votes credited to deceased registrants.
  • It is estimated this year that some 100 million voters will receive either ballots or ballot request forms in the mail.

Nearly 350,000 dead registrants remain on voter rolls across 41 states, according to an audit (pdf) conducted by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF).

The number is a major improvement over the last time an assessment of similar scope was performed in 2012, when a Pew Research report turned up 2 million deceased voters on the rolls.

In the 2016 and 2018 elections, states credited 14,608 registrants for voting after death, the PILF report found. The foundation didn’t count cases where votes could have been cast by living registrants during the early or absentee voting periods.

North Carolina led the United States in both 2016 and 2018 in the number of votes credited to deceased registrants. The second-worst states in both elections registered three times fewer votes cast by dead registrants.

With less than two months left before Election Day in November, the report is a major contribution to the argument about mail-in voting. Supporters of vote-by-mail say it is more essential than ever in 2020 due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Opponents say universal mail-in ballots open the door for fraud and undermine confidence in the outcome of the election.

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