State’s ‘weak match’ of possibly deceased voters insufficient
to justify removal before the Nov. 6 election
HOUSTON – (Sept. 10, 2012) – Last week, at the Secretary of State’s instruction, the Harris County Voter Registrar’s Office sent a challenge letter to 9,018 registered voters asking if they were deceased.
The file used for the mailing was developed by the Secretary of State by comparing the statewide voter roll to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File.
Today, the Office received numerous confirmations from recipients of the letters that they were indeed still alive. After discussion with a representative of the Secretary of State’s Office regarding the database matching criteria, “we learned just how weak their matching criteria were,” Harris County Voter Registrar Don Sumners said.
“In response to voters’ confirmations they are alive and my learning the weakness of the matches in this file, we have decided that persons not responding to the challenge letter will remain on the roll until after the Nov. 6 election. One should err on the side of caution before removing a registered voter from the roll,” Sumners said.
This action means anyone receiving the letter who also votes in the Nov. 6 election will be left on the voter roll regardless of whether they respond to the letter. Only those registered voters whose families confirm that they have passed will be removed from the roll before the election.
Of course, those voters whose families do confirm they are dead will be removed from the roll before the election.
“One take away from this applies to all mail from the Voter Registrar or the Tax Office: Open it, read it and respond, even if the response is to call us,” Sumners said. “Oral confirmation from the registered voter will be accepted.”
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