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Dead People Voting? Let's Wait Until the Data is Done Talking

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[Image courtesy of degreesofmoderation]

Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School posted the following yesterday on Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog - and it's so good, so spot-on about the need to let data tell the whole story whenever election administration is concerned, that I want to share it in its entirety here.

In the wake of James O'Keefe's latest videos about fictitious "dead voters," now comes a new investigation in South Carolina, looking for "actual" "dead voters." In reviewing the state's motor vehicle records and its voting rolls, there is apparently evidence indicating that 900 people listed as deceased are also listed as voting in subsequent elections (I'm not sure what time period is involved).

With South Carolina filing a preclearance lawsuit over the new photo ID law that earned an objection from DOJ, and with the general media hubbub around the state's upcoming presidential primary, expect this to get an awful lot of attention ... along with an awful lot of misinformation.

Attorney General Wilson is right to ask for an investigation. I hope it's complete. And I hope that he publishes not only the full results, but also the methodology used to come to the initial 900-vote assessment, and the methodology used to investigate further.

There's already some skepticism, and for good reason. Exaggerated stories of dead voters crop up pretty regularly around Halloween, which gives me repeated topical opportunities to explain why the zombie voter hordes haven't taken over just yet. [It also gave me the opportunity to post the picture above - it's amazing what you get when you do an image search for "dead people voting" - DMCj] It sounds like the initial evidence in South Carolina is based on matching voter rolls to other lists. In follow-up of other, similar, allegations, further investigation has shown that:

And when the salacious allegations turn out to be mundane glitches, or unconnected to proving identity at the polls, there's a lot less attention paid. So I look forward to the actual facts, whatever they may show. And I hope there's as much coverage at the end of the investigation as I anticipate at the outset.

Let the election geeks say, "Amen."

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