Can the dead vote? It’s a pernicious reputation that hangs over Illinois politics that two lawmakers are hoping to address. State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) and State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) have filed legislation to prevent voter fraud and clean up the voting rolls.
“The dead can’t rest in peace if they’re still concerning themselves with Illinois politics,” Rep. McDermed joked. “Whether accidental or malicious, we can prevent voter fraud by keeping the voter rolls up to date. It something that should obviously be done periodically that just isn’t required in current statute.”
Under current Illinois law, county clerks are not required to match up death records with voter rolls and purge any inconsistencies. A 2016 CBS Chicago report found a number of voters who were still active beyond the grave, including Floyd Stevens who had voted 11 times since his death in 1993.
“If CBS was able to find inconsistencies by simply merging voter histories with the death master file from the Social Security Administration, our legislation isn’t really asking much of our county clerks,” Rep. Mazzochi said.
House Bill 4060 requires a county coroner, medical examiner, or any other individual responsible for certification of death under the Vital Records Act to transmit certified records to the county clerk within 7 days after the death. The clerk must then use the electronic reporting system for death registrations to cancel the voter registration of any person who has died during the preceding month. County clerks must issue a quarterly report to their county board certifying compliance and the accuracy of the voter rolls.
HB 4060 was filed in January and is awaiting assignment to a committee for further consideration. Similar legislation filed by Rep. Mazzochi last year did not receive a hearing or a committee vote, but she’s hopeful that recent news will pressure legislators to take action, “with the botched rollout of AVR, we’ve seen once again how our voter rolls can be full of mistakes and result in people voting who otherwise shouldn’t be. Let’s clean this up.”