Basin Election Officials Respond to New Decision Over Purging Dead People from Voter Roll

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- It's strange, but it happens more often than you'd think.

"Let's face it. I don't think you'd be very happy to get a letter saying, 'Well, we heard that you died,'" Midland County Elections Administrator, Ruth Sloan, said.

Keeping track of voters who have passed away is one of the challenges elections officials face and it can be awkward when an official discovers that person is still very much alive.

Ector County Election Administrator, Mitzi Scheible, said, "We've had some calls from these people saying, 'I'm talking to you, so what's the deal?'"

However awkward it may be, it's still very important to track the deceased in order to keep a clean voter roll and avoid voter fraud.

Sloan says this year Texas had a big jump in the number of so-called "weak" matches. That term refers to a voter who has the same birthday and final four social security digits as a dead person. These "weak" matches have a questionable life or death status in the eyes of the state. Ector County had 248 "weak" matches and Midland County had 47 "weak" matches.

As per standard protocol, county officials sent notices to these "weak" matches asking recipients to reply within 30 days so the state could know whether or not they are alive. No reply from you or a relative and off the voter roll you go.

"I think that's where the concern came in. [There was concern] that we would cancel you if you didn't reply," Sloan said.

However, this week Secretary of State Hope Andrade issued a statement reporting that if a recipient or a recipient's relative doesn't reply, that's ok. His or her name will not be dropped from the voter roll. At least, not now.

"They're in a suspense mode until after the [November] election," Scheible said.

Andrade's message comes after a settlement of a lawsuit that was brought against the state for purging the dead from the roll.