New York Voting Official Warns Voters May Register for Mail-in Ballots with Dead People's Names

A New York state election commissioner has called for officials to be on the look out for people who use the personal details of the deceased to request mail-in ballots for the election in November.

Nick LaLota, who is the Suffolk County elections commissioner, said that an absentee ballot application dated September 4 had been received from a voter who had died in June. "Those things ought to be ferreted out," said LaLota.

"I hope that we're all in agreement that it is part of this county and other county boards of elections duties, to identify those and to ensure that ballots don't go out, in this case for a dead person," he told a discussion on mail-in voting hosted by house administration committee ranking member Rep. Rodney Davis, according to Just the News.

"Somebody is out there, trying to vote for a dead person, and we ought to identify who that person is and ensure they're brought to justice," he added, calling on district attorneys in New York and other states to find and prosecute people those trying to get ballots under the names of dead people.

Mail-in ballot
An election worker holds up instructions for an absentee ballot in this illustrative image. A New York state election official has warned of the chance of people registering under the names of the deceased. Logan Cyrus/Getty Images

Voters in New York have to request a mail-in ballot, but in other states, such as neighboring New Jersey, every registered voter is mailed out a ballot. In 2013, Nassau County had 6,000 registered voters who were deceased, more than any other New York county. Around 270 cast their ballots after their deaths, Newsday reported.

Earlier this month, a widely circulated post on Facebook claimed that over 500,000 vote-by-mail ballots in Virginia and 200,000 in Nevada had been sent to dead people and pets.

However, the Associated Press debunked the rumor as false after election officials in both states had said on September 4 that absentee ballots had at that point not even been mailed.

The false claim about Virginia's electorate may have been fueled by problems with ballots an incorrect address on the return envelope being sent to households earlier this year.

In Nevada, a U.S. Postal Service worker said she saw ballots addressed to inactive voters, including to her deceased mother. However election officials told the AP there was no evidence either 200,000 ballots in Nevada voters, or 500,000 in Virginia, were sent to deceased voters.

In 2018, 153 million Americans were registered to vote and statistically around 2.4 million would have died over the two-year election cycle, emeritus professor of economics at American University, Bradley Schiller pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed last month.

He said it was inevitable that dead people would be posted ballots with universal mail-in voting but these would only affect an election if third parties got them and used them to cast votes.

"The issue then would be voter fraud, not inefficiency. Since those dead ballots are mailed to family residences or returned to sender (election boards), the opportunity for collecting and misusing dead peoples' ballots is exceedingly small," Schiller wrote.