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Give the dearly undeparted voters a break


It seems sanity has prevailed in the Texas quest to find “potentially deceased” people, dead or alive, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The craziness started last year in the Texas legislature when the Lone Star lawmakers adopted a bill described as an effort to clean up local voter registration rolls and prevent voting fraud.
Legislators said they wanted the secretary of state and county voter registrars to check their voter rolls against the Social Security Administration’s list of dead people.
Even Texans acknowledge dead people can’t vote, and nobody should be voting for them. I admit I have a prejudice about residents of Texas and Tennessee and don’t put too much faith in their truth telling.
However, county voter registrars, who also serve as county election administrators, complained they were covered up in work redrawing voting precincts according to the Legislature’s redistricting maps changed to meet the U.S. Census.
Legal action delayed and finally changed the redistricting maps, so the local work also was pushed back, the Fort Worth paper explained. That really delayed checking on the potential dead voters.
Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade said she checked the Social Security Administration’s dead folks list and found the names of about 80,000 people to check to see if they were alive or dead.
If you are drawing a Social Security check or enrolled, you lose your privacy rights upon death, according to the agency. The name, month of death and last known address becomes available on the Internet, in case you wondering.
Many of those 80,000 names came up as “strong matches” of dead individual’s Social Security numbers. However, a large number were “weak matches,” an indication part of the Social Security number matched but not all of it.
Texas county officials culled the strong matches and eliminated many names from the voter rolls. Those that they could not be sure of — the “potentially deceased” — were sent letters.
If you received one of the letters but were not dead, you were given 30 days to speak up or be stricken from the voter rolls. That obviously would mean some live people would have problems casting a ballot the Nov. 6 general election.
Some very-alive voters filed a lawsuit in Austin. Texas voters are like voters in Arkansas: When in doubt sue someone, anyone.
However, the Texas secretary of state and the attorneys in that suit reached a settlement: County voter registrars can take as long as they need to produce accurate rolls. Does that count as a legal victory for live voters?
In Arkansas county clerks also serve as permanent voter registrars and face the same issues confronting their counterparts in Texas. Here, the clerks are also required to strike convicted felons from the voter rolls. It doesn’t always work that way.
We must be doing better economically in Arkansas than Texas. In Crittenden County investigators have uncovered a number of absentee voter fraud cases where votes were sold for money or exchanged for booze.
One state representative admitted his participation in buying votes and resigned from the Legislature.
All this indicates we have more class than the Texans. We buy the votes of live voters, not the dead.
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Larry Fugate is a veteran journalist and former editor of The Pine Bluff Commercial. He can be reached by e-mail at fugatel@sbcglobal.net or at (870) 329-7010.