Dead Voters? Oh My! Oh, Wait.

Young-voter-via-ShutterstockLate last month, CBS4 Denver’s Brian Maass ran a story that’s been stirring a great deal of alarm among the right wing’s perennial “vote fraud” conspiracy theorists–a report that identified a handful of cases, in which voters in Colorado who were deceased had votes cast in their name:

A CBS4 investigation has found multiple cases of dead men and women voting in Colorado months and in some cases years after their deaths, a revelation that calls into question safeguards designed to prevent such occurrences…

The cases of dead men and women casting ballots ranged from El Paso County in southern Colorado to Denver and Jefferson County. CBS4 discovered the fraudulent voting by comparing databases of voting histories in Colorado against a federal death database.

The CBS4 investigation has triggered criminal investigations in El Paso and Jefferson counties along with a broad investigation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“It’s not a perfect system. There are some gaps,” acknowledged Williams.

The story’s lede used the word “multiple” to describe the number of cases of dead voters casting ballots, though the original story described four such cases–and none newer than 2013. One of those cases was later explained by a clerical error. Last night, a followup report from Maass announced with great fanfare the discovery of one additional case:

An ongoing CBS4 Investigation into dead voters in Colorado has turned up another dead voter — this time in Larimer County.

“I don’t think it was an accident,” said Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers, who acknowledged she found the most recent dead voter after the initial CBS4 Investigation entitled “Dying To Vote,” which aired last month. That initial investigation found a handful of votes cast in the names of dead Coloradans months, and sometimes years, after they died.

Myers said following that report, the Secretary of State sent her a list of deceased voters to double check.

“We did find a single deceased voter,” she said, “and unfortunately it was counted.”

That brings the total number of “dead voters” discovered in Colorado to either four or five depending on whether you count the original report that turned out to be incorrect. That means several weeks of heightened scrutiny of voter registrations after the first CBS4 report resulted in only one additional case of a dead person “voting.”

On October 1st, Colorado had 3,756,564 registered voters.

To be sure, there is no responsible argument that these four or five cases of probable vote fraud should be ignored–not even literal one-in-a-million cases as these appear to be. Vote fraud is a crime, and especially in a mail ballot election system like Colorado’s it’s important  that any violators be swiftly prosecuted to the limit of the law. That is being done right now with these cases, as clerks work through the information they’ve been given and refer findings to prosecutors.

But never mind all that boring factual stuff, folks! The conservative media has its own version:


Brian Maass and CBS4 deserve some criticism for the ridiculous hyperbole flooding the conservative media today based on his report of four or five “dead voters” among nearly four million registered voters in Colorado. Maass’ reporting intentionally downplayed the actual number of cases, using words like “multiple” when “several” or even the correct single-digit number would have been more accurate–if less sensational. But the bigger problem is with the conservative media outlets completely untethered by a need for accuracy who distorted Maass’ report into something vastly worse than the facts support.

Williams said measures implemented in 2015 should reduce the number of dead voters casting ballots in Colorado, [Pols emphasis] but he noted that the CBS4 investigation indicates further measures might be necessary.

Yes, any improperly cast vote is a problem. But as you can see from the actual numbers described here, a draconian solution like what the right wing desires to “combat vote fraud” would disenfranchise far more perfectly legitimate voters than the totality of this problem. That’s a great approach if your goal is to reduce the number of people who vote, but not so much for ensuring fair and accessible elections.

The moral of the story? Don’t believe the hype. Or the hyping of the hype.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Davie says:

    A far worse problem is that of Brain Dead voters.  Those run in the hundreds of thousands in each election.

  2. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    I would have thought that people already know that the only place where dead people are known to vote is Chicago.

    Trump/Putin 2016  !!!

    • BlueCat says:

      Were known to.  Sigh….back in the good old days when being a precinct captain got you something more than headaches. The graft. The kick backs. There were so many patronage jobs in the giving of minor party officials (for a small token of appreciation) in Chicago and Cook County, we kids got a snow day maybe once in four or five years through blizzard after blizzard. Those plows would be out with the first flakes and they'd keep going all night and all day. It took a really good ice storm, the kind that encases every individual spruce needle and turns every road and sidewalk surface into an ice rink, to temporarily defeat the machine's vast armies of city and county employees.

      Alas, in Chicago today the dead now rest in boring peace, even on election day.

    • kickshot says:

      With DHS' expression of confidence that Russia is the hacker,

      it has now become

      Putin/Trump 2016

  3. davebarnes says:

    If the dead people vote against the GOP: Grab Our Pussy™, then I have no problem with them voting.

  4. SixPointBull says:

    If I recall correctly, several of the dead voters had voted in Republican primaries. Check out the original story if you have time.

    • Davie says:

      Just reinforces that the only way the GOP can provide any examples of vote fraud is if they perpetrate it themselves (right Caldara?)

      • FrankUnderwood says:

        And let's not forget Jon "I Have a Big Dog" Keyser. As much as we might try to……

      • BlueCat says:

        I also recall that when a couple of cases of actual voter fraud were discovered with mail ins ( I seem to recall one where the guy voted mail in here and also voted in another state), in both cases it was a registered Republican. In no case has any evidence been produced that any election was affected by any of the one in a million or more examples. Aren't the same people calling for draconian measures to keep us safe from barely measurable and never election affecting voter fraud always telling us that things like background checks are useless because they so inconvenience so many while the majority of gun buyers are law abiding? 

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    If there is a problem with dead people voting, mandate thumbprints on a ballot enclosure (or affidavits for those missing thumbs). If there are duplicates, find the thumbs and string them up.


  6. itlduso says:

    How many legitimate votes were miscounted over the years?!?

  7. bullshit! says:

    Bwahahaha! "Dem. Secretary of State"

    They really do make the shit up as they go along.

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