Why Virginia changed the way it removes deceased voters from the rolls

Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-18 18:13:48-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va - The Virginia Department of Elections is making the process easier for local elections officials to remove deceased voters from their rolls.

Hanover County Registrar Terri Smithson is one of many around Virginia celebrating the move.

“We know our people,” Smithson said. “This absolutely frees us up to do our job: to keep our voters roll clean.”

Registrars are now allowed to use obituaries and death certificates to remove deceased voters from their voter lists.

Families of loved ones who pass can also fill out a form notifying the local election office.

Smithson said prior to this move, registrars had to wait until Virgina’s vital records bureau sent official notification that a voter had died.

“It helps to stop the confusion at the polling place,” she said.

Virginia ELECT said they also recently reviewed data of VDH death records dating back to 1960 and found 18,990 that had not been previously shared with them.

In the coming weeks, local registrars will process those names and remove a significant number of names from Virginia’s voter rolls.

Commissioner Susan Beals told the Virginia Mercuryher department discovered a coding issue when preparing to migrate to a new voter system.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth, who has closely watched Virginia elections for decades, said most voter fraud claims in Virginia are unproven, and this move only helps with that issue.

“I think it’s a good idea to clean this up. It’s going make it even more difficult to put forward some of the outrageous charges that have been made about dead people voting,” Dr. Holsworth said.
“Some people may get worried when they see the number of people who are deceased and have to be removed when they’re in the thousands. The reality is we don’t have either situation happening very much in Virginia. We don’t have eligible voters in large numbers being told they can’t vote, and we don’t have situations where deceased people are voting."

Dr. Holsworth said the improving voter list maintenance has received support from both parties, even in a divided General Assembly.

“Last year for example, both parties basically passed legislation that says the Department of Health has to send notices of who’s deceased to local registrars more quickly so they could cleanse the rolls in a way that would make it more efficient and more effective,” Dr. Holsworth said.

For more information on this issue or any other surrounding your local elections, you can find your local registrar’s office here.

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