The city of Philadelphia is known for many things: The Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks, water ice, and Santa Claus-booing Eagles fans. But if research that I conducted in 2006 is still accurate today, Philadelphia should also be known for all-inclusive voting — that is, voting regardless of whether one has a pulse or is otherwise eligible to cast a vote.
Every two years, states are required to provide data to the Election Assistance Commission regarding their compliance with Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (the section of that statute which ensures voter lists are up-to-date and free of ineligible voters). In 2005, their data collection for Pennsylvania revealed that 102.5% of the citizen voting age population was registered to vote on Election Day 2004.
One might reasonably wonder how it was possible that more people were registered to vote than existed. My 2006 analysis of the city of Philadelphia’s voter list provided some possible answers to that question.
In the spring of 2006, I reviewed portions of the city of Philadelphia’s 2005 voting list. I found that underaged voters, deceased voters, and incarcerated felons were registered to vote and had remained on the voting list, despite the fact that none of them were eligible to vote in Pennsylvania (or, in most cases, anywhere else).
In Pennsylvania, a voter must be 18 or older as of the date of the election to be eligible to vote. Yet at least 130 voters on the list were under the age of 18. Thirty-four of whom had a birth year of 2004 — the year of the election. And 215 voters on the list had a birthdate of: “00-00-00.”
Just looking at the years of birth for the registered voters, I found 54 voters listed with years of birth ranging from 1825 – 1899. While it is possible that a voter born in 1899 could still be alive in 2004 (he or she would be 105), it is clearly impossible that someone born in 1825 would.
Digging a little bit deeper, I was able to find confirmed deceased voters still on the list. I took a sample of 385 registrants born between the years 1900 and 1905, and found that 51 (thirteen percent!) were in fact dead, according to the Social Security Death Index.
It was not simply the deceased, underaged, and age-unknown who remained on the voter list: incarcerated felons (who are ineligible to vote in Pennsylvania) were on there too. My research showed that at least 12 incarcerated felons were on the 2005 official voter list, and were still incarcerated when I conducted my analysis in 2006.
Leaving names on the official voter list of ineligible voters invites fraud. While I did not witness this, a reliable person “on the ground” during the 2004 presidential election told me that he saw the signatures in the poll books of these same 12 incarcerated felons — indicating that they actually voted on Election Day.
My sampling of just a small portion of one city’s data from the 2005 official voting list uncovered 408 definite or highly likely ineligible voters. And that number does not account for all of the voters who may have been ineligible due to a change in residence. The true number of ineligible voters could easily be in the thousands — just from this small sample.
Assume that there were just 400 or so ineligible voters from all of Philadelphia, and not just from a small sample. Philadelphia is just one of 67 counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If every county had 400 or more ineligible voters on their lists for any given election, and those voters actually voted, roughly 26,800 votes would be ineligible. Multiply that by 50 states and one would be hard-pressed to successfully argue that a problem doesn’t exist when relevant portions of the National Voter Registration Act, such as Section 8, are not enforced — as the DOJ’s Julie Fernandes instructed.
If it is true that the DOJ, as a matter of policy, will not enforce this statute, it is frightening to think of the consequences. Would anyone be able to trust the electoral process knowing that dead or otherwise ineligible voters are casting votes?
The right to vote in America is sacred and should remain as pure as our Founding Fathers intended. (Those same Founding Fathers who declared America a free and independent country during a hot summer in 1776 in … Philadelphia.)
It is time to take action. If the DOJ will not enforce the law, the people must — the Motor Voter law allows private citizens to bring suit against states and voter registrars for not properly maintaining the rolls.
Our right to vote is what gives us the power to choose the government that works for us — “consent of the governed” is a hollow phrase if voter rolls do not accurately reflect “the governed.”