An NBC4 investigation reveals deceased voters remain on the rolls, but election officials say its no cause for alarm. Joel Grover reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2012.
Sylvia Fleischer is a registered voter, who has proudly cast her ballot in every election. She's always been active in politics, and said one of the highlights of her life was receiving a reply from President Barack Obama after she sent him a letter in 2008.
But even though she's eligible to vote tomorrow, don't expect to see Ms. Fleischer at the polls. Sylvia Fleischer died three years ago.
She's one of perhaps thousands of deceased Californians who remain on the voting rolls.
An investigation by the NBC4 I-team showed thousands of questionable voters. That causes concern that someone could use the names of deceased voters to fraudulently cast a ballot. It's a concern not lost on Fleischer's daughter Jackie Doe.
"You would have the potential of somebody picking up her voting material and getting an extra vote for themselves," Doe said.
While election officials admit that possibility exists, they say cases of voter fraud involving deceased voters is very rare, even with a record number of Californians now registered to vote.
"I believe the voting process in Los Angeles County has a very high level of integrity," said Dean Logan, L.A County's registrar of voters.
It's up to each individual county to decide how to keep its voting rolls current. In LA county, Logan says his office compares death certificates with voting rolls four times a year, to make sure deceased voters are removed.
Still, some names just fall through the cracks. Like Carol Morrison of Palo Alto. She died of cancer in 2004, but remains registered to vote. Despite her death, state records show she voted in the last two presidential elections.
Her husband William said it's unconscionable that someone is apparently using his wife's name to illegally cast ballots. "It angers me and hurts me because she's dead."
Logan says it can be a tough balancing act. Officials want to scrub rolls to lower the possibility of fraud, but they don't want to be so aggressive they accidentally remove a legally registered voter. "The chances of having that person have the confidence to come back and vote in future elections is really damaged," Logan said.
As to how Sylvia Fleischer also appears to have remained on the voter rolls years after her death, a few errors are inevitable, he said. "In a database of 4.7 million people, that's bound to happen," he said. After learning about Fleischer, he immediately cancelled her registration.