Dead People Cast Ballots in Michigan, Data Researcher Alleges

By Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
November 10, 2020Updated: November 12, 2020

About 9,500 voters whose names and dates of birth (DOB) match death records in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) are marked in the Michigan mail voting database as having returned ballots, according to an analysis of the state’s election data conducted by a data researcher.

The SSDI match is not a definitive proof that the voter is dead. It’s “quite common” for two people to share the same name and DOB, according to Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a right-leaning election watchdog not associated with the analysis.

“Those matching datasets are only starting points for further research. You must validate identity by looking at Social Security and credit bureau data to determine that’s the same person,” Churchwell told The Epoch Times via email. “We find generally that regardless of sample size, roughly 10 percent of name and DOB matches will pass all validation tests thereafter.”

Another nearly 2,000 names in the analysis are voters 100 years old or more and aren’t listed as known living centenarians.

The analysis was provided by Richard Baris, director of Big Data Poll. He said the process of validating the data is in progress.

“It’s also entirely possible that some of them aren’t even real people,” Baris told The Epoch Times via email. “If someone is 110 or some ridiculous age, we should have their death record but do not.”

Americans older than 110 are exceedingly rare; only a handful of such seniors are known to live in Michigan.

According to the 2010 Census, there were 1,729 centenarians in Michigan (pdf).

When asked to comment on the data provided by Baris, Aneta Kiersnowski, press secretary for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, directed The Epoch Times to a “Fact Checks” page on the department’s website.

“Ballots of voters who have died are rejected in Michigan, even if the voter cast an absentee ballot and then died before Election Day,” the site says. “Those who make claims otherwise are wrong, and the lists circulating claiming to show this is happening are not accurate. Many of the lists do not contain enough information to accurately compare them to the Michigan Qualified Voter File. MDOS and news organizations have drawn samples and reviewed samples of lists claiming to show votes cast by deceased individuals in Michigan. We are not aware of a single confirmed case showing that a ballot was actually cast on behalf of a deceased individual.”

It’s not clear if their information pertained to the data provided by Baris, which hasn’t been circulated online.

Tracy Wimmer, Benson’s director of media relations, previously provided similar comments.

“Ballots of voters who have died are rejected in Michigan, even if the voter cast an absentee ballot and then died before Election Day,” she told The Epoch Times via email.

Baris wasn’t convinced though.

“While I’m open to the idea some of these have been rejected, I’m not open to any outright dismissal they all were rejected,” he said in a Nov. 8 tweet.

The data on how many ballots were rejected isn’t available yet, Wimmer said.

She said that “a ballot received for a living voter may be recorded in a way that makes it appear as if the voter is dead.”

“This can be because of voters with similar names, where the ballot is accidentally recorded as voted by John Smith Sr., when it was actually voted by John Smith Jr., or because of inaccurately recorded birth dates in the qualified voter file.”

This only happens “on rare occasions,” she said.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden leads in Michigan by less than 150,000 votes. The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Michigan to halt vote counting until Republican observers are granted adequate access. The GOP-led Michigan legislature is investigating allegations of election irregularities in the state.

In a Nov. 9 lawsuit, a Detroit poll watcher alleged thousands of mail-in ballots from people who weren’t properly registered to vote were added to vote counts.

Poll operators were adding names and addresses to the poll book with made-up birth dates, such as 1/1/1900, he said in a sworn affidavit.

Baris said the mail voting data he worked from likely isn’t up to date enough to capture any irregularities that happened Election Day and after.

“If they did that on Election Day in Michigan, then we likely wouldn’t know until December,” he said. “If it is true, then they’d, unfortunately, get away with it in the short-term.”

President Donald Trump is challenging the results of the elections in several states where Biden holds a tight lead. The Trump campaign is alleging invalid ballots were counted for Democrats, valid ballots were thrown away for Republicans, and Republican ballot watchers were prevented from meaningfully observing the vote-counting process.

Update: The article has been updated with further comments from the Michigan Department of State as well as comments from the Public Interest legal Foundation spokesman.

Correction: This article’s headline was edited to reflect that a definitive confirmation of how many mail-in ballots in Michigan were cast in the name of deceased people is still pending.

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