Editorial: Dead People Can't Vote

Publication: Los Angeles Times

02/19/2012 - A new study by the Pew Center on the States concludes that 24 million voter registrations in the United States — about 1 in 8 — are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million dead people are listed as active voters, and 2.75 million voters have active registrations in more than one state.

At first blush, these findings might seem to shore up those — mostly in the Republican Party — who argue that voting fraud is endemic and must be combated by stronger enforcement measures, such as a requirement that voters carry photo IDs. But the authors of the study don't draw that conclusion, and reforms to address inaccurate records need not impose burdensome identification requirements that disproportionately disadvantage minorities and the poor.

The Pew study was based on an analysis of data drawn from state and local governments, commercial sources and the National Change of Address database run by theU.S. Postal Service. It traced inaccuracies to several factors, notably election officials' reliance on paper documentation and the fact that the American population is much more mobile than it was in the 19th century, when many voting registration procedures were established. The study notes that about 1 in 8 Americans moved during the 2008 and 2010 election years.

Read the full editorial, Dead People Can't Vote, on the Los Angeles Times' Web site.

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