UPDATE: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich introduced a motion Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting to start an investigation into the news station’s findings as a result of this story. READ MORE
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A comparison of records by David Goldstein, investigative reporter for CBS2/KCAL9, has revealed hundreds of so-called dead voters in Southern California, a vast majority of them in Los Angeles County.
“He took a lot of time choosing his candidates,” said Annette Givans of her father, John Cenkner.
Cenkner died in Palmdale in 2003. Despite this, records show that he somehow voted from the grave in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
But he’s not the only one.
CBS2 compared millions of voting records from the California Secretary of State’s office with death records from the Social Security Administration and found hundreds of so-called dead voters.
Specifically, 265 in Southern California and a vast majority of them, 215, in Los Angeles County alone.
The numbers come from state records that show votes were cast in that person’s name after they died. In some cases, Goldstein discovered that they voted year after year.
Across all counties, Goldstein uncovered 32 dead voters who cast ballots in eight elections apiece, including a woman who died in 1988. Records show she somehow voted in 2014, 26 years after she passed away.
It remains unclear how the dead voters voted but 86 were registered Republicans, 146 were Democrats, including Cenkner.
“He’s a diehard Democrat, and I was thinking that if somebody was voting under his name, he’s probably rolling in his grave if they were voting Republican,” Givans said.
She said her dad always voted at the polls, only now records show someone else may be casting his vote.
“It just astounds me. I don’t understand how anybody can get away with that,” she said.
And then there’s Julita Abutin.
Records show she voted in Norwalk in 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008 though she died in 2006.
Abutin’s daughter, Marivic, says it’s impossible that her mother voted.
But the Los Angeles County Registrar confirms they have signed vote-by-mail envelopes with her mother’s name for the 2014 and 2012 election, though she died 10 years ago.
Edward Carbajal Jr.’s father died in La Puente in 2001 but state records show a vote was cast in his father’s name in eight elections after he passed away.
It’s possible as a junior, election officials mistakenly attributed the vote to his father. There is no way to tell from CBS2’s data but he wonders why his dad is still registered.
“I mean, that should be something that everybody that’s involved with these types of things should know who’s alive and who isn’t,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Registrar told CBS2: “We remove 1200 to 2000 deceased records from the database per month.”
But the news station checked all of the dead voters from LA County on the Registrar’s website and found 212 of the 215 were still registered and eligible to vote in next month’s presidential primary election.
“It’s very troubling because it basically dilutes the voice of the lawful voter,” said Ellen Swensen with the “True the Vote,” a nationwide voter-rights group.
“What it does is every single vote that’s cast by a dead voter actually cancels out a vote of a lawful voter cause if they voted for one candidate and you voted let’s say for another, your vote got canceled out,” she said.
As Goldstein reports, it was all supposed to change after the hanging chads incident in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which mandated sweeping reforms, including a statewide voter registration system that would eliminate ineligible voters.
But California is the only state that’s still not compliant with the act. Secretary of State Alex Padilla hopes to have it compliant later this year.
“You’re not supposed to have dead people on the rolls,” said J. Christian Adams, who is with the Public Interest Legal Foundation.
“The problem is California has been the most derelict state in the country in implementing statewide databases that are required under federal law. They just blew it off for over a decade,” said Adams.
And in that decade and more, CBS2 found hundreds of votes on the state’s own database cast for people who have died, like Cenkner.
“It’s very said that people can just take somebody’s name and go out and vote for them,” said Givans.
Los Angeles County supervisors called for a full investigation Tuesday as a result of this story.