OSAGE, Iowa – It’s a list you probably don’t think about, but it’s one that county auditors across the country need to check, and if they don’t, there could be some big consequences during election time.
In Iowa, auditors in all 99 counties recently received a list of voters who passed away, but might still be registered to vote.
Janelle Adams is the Mitchell County Deputy Auditor, and there’s a part of her job you probably never thought about. She has to check the local obituaries.
“We want to make sure we get them off of the voting records, so somebody can’t step in and pretend to be them,” said Adams.
To help county auditors’ offices fight voter fraud, the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office just sent out a list of possible deceased voters in all 99 counties. Mitchell County had 11, but those numbers still need to be double checked.
“Say they’re on vacation in another state and they pass away. That state has to notify the Secretary of States offices.Then they notify us, and we take them off of our list,” said Adams.
State Representative, Josh Byrnes says he was somewhat shocked when he saw that more than a thousand people are unaccounted for in Iowa. He’s hoping maybe someday, a simpler way of checking deceased voters off the record could be possible.
“I don’t know if there is a connection with the county auditor and their local funeral homes, or something where paperwork needs to be processed. That’s one of the people they need to contact,” said Byrnes.
Byrnes says luckily for him, as a State Representative whose position depends on votes, the counties he represents were looking good number wise.
“You think about the absentee side of it, and whether or not someone could pick up their absentee ballot and actually fill that out for them.That’s a little bit concerning,” said Byrnes.
But, if checking their local obits isn’t enough, they’ll definitely know once the postcards they send out as a safety net, don’t come back.
“Yes, we have, because obviously, they can’t respond if they’re no longer with us,” said Adams.
The first cross check started in Iowa in 2012. The list of deceased voters comes from the Social Security Death Index.