9 Investigates: Some raise concern about people using names of dead to vote

by: Tina Terry Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There are concerns about people using the names of dead people to vote in Tuesday's election.

Channel 9 found the names of hundreds of dead people were only recently removed from voter rolls in several local counties.  Some of those people had been dead for years.

It's one of the closest presidential races ever.  Political scientist Michael Bitzer said the race could be a closer than in 2008, when just over 14,000 votes helped President Obama win North Carolina.

“That means 3-5 votes in every precinct in North Carolina could have made the difference in terms of who won North Carolina,” Bitzer said.

And some say the close race could lead to voter fraud.

“My concern is dead people can actually vote. You can walk in there today and assume the identity of a dead person with no ID and walk out having voted,” said Jay Delancy, director of the Voter Integrity Project.

Delancy compared a list of North Carolina residents who died over the past 10 years with a list of registered voters. His investigation prompted state election officials to do the same.

The state found 20,500 matches -- people who were possibly dead.

In the end, Gaston, Cabarrus, and Rowan counties removed a combined total of 1,260 dead voters from their rolls.  About 1,500 were removed in Mecklenburg County.

Eyewitness News dug deeper and learned 20 of those dead people showed some voter activity after they died.  Six of them may have early voted and died before Election Day.

They're still investigating the other cases, and say some of them may be clerical errors. But Michael Dickerson, director of Mecklenburg County's Board of Elections, said it's not a huge number considering the millions who died over those 10 years. 

“A 20 number out of that gives me an error rate of .000008, so we're quite happy with our process that we're performing and we think we're doing a really good job,” Dickerson said.   

But Delancy said there could be other dead people on the rolls that election officials don't know about, because states like Virginia and South Carolina withhold the names of North Carolina residents who die in their states.

“If 50 people wanted to go out and deliberately commit vote fraud and didn't mind taking the risk, I doubt they'd get caught, to be honest,” he said.   

Officials said there are checks to prevent fraud. Poll workers have access to personal information like age that would allow them to challenge a pretender.

Bitzer said while fraud can happen, it may be hard to go unnoticed. 

“In this type of polarized environment, word is going to get out very quickly,” he said.

State election officials said the audit has prompted them to work with states like South Carolina and Virginia. They're asking them to release the names of North Carolina residents who die there. They said 50 percent of North Carolina residents who die out of state die in those two states.