Top House Republicans on Thursday are sending a letter to the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections (DCBOE) expressing concern over reports that many ballots are being sent to people who have moved or died and lighting into the board for “its failure to take responsibility” for its voter rolls.
The letter comes after D.C. began mailing ballots to residents late last month in an effort to allow people to avoid polling places on Election Day and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But soon after there were widespread complaints from voters that they were getting ballots that were addressed to people who had in some cases not lived at a particular residence for years. Some voters reported that they still were sent ballots for voters who no longer lived in their residence even after they had returned DCBOE postcards confirming that certain voters no longer lived at their address.
“Notwithstanding its failure to take responsibility for creating this avoidable situation, the Board places a large onus squarely on individual citizens to clean up a mess solely of the Board’s making,” said the Republicans, led by Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer of Kentucky. “This appears to be the only ‘safeguard’ in place, with no other procedures to avoid, detect, and/or divert misaddressed ballots.”
RETURN TO SENDER: DC VOTERS ARE BEING SENT MAIL-IN BALLOTS FOR EX-RESIDENTS
Outdated voter rolls are a common problem in many jurisdictions around the country. But the issue has been brought to the forefront ahead of the 2020 presidential election as many states and jurisdictions like D.C. are quickly moving to universal mail-in voting systems — where all voters are sent mail ballots without needing to request them — amid the pandemic.
The elections board asked the voters repeatedly on social media to mark any such ballots “return to sender” and mail them back so the DCBOE could update its voter rolls. A spokesperson for the DCBOE told Fox News last week that it is asking voters to “do your part” and “don’t take advantage” of ballots that were sent to them in error. When voters return such ballots to sender, the DCBOE will update its records, the spokesperson said.
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“In fact, it is unclear whether the DC Board of Elections took any steps to prevent misaddressed ballots from being sent out in the first place,” the House Republicans continued in their letter. “It is unclear when the Board last updated its voter rolls or whether it is currently taking any steps to rectify the current situation. It is also unclear what safeguards the DC Board of Elections has in place to detect fraudulent ballots or preventing an individual from casting multiple ballots.”
The DCBOE told Fox News last week that it verifies signatures of all mail-in ballots so that any ballots sent fraudulently will be detected. When asked last week whether it was taking any proactive steps to prevent more misaddressed ballots from going out, the spokesperson said “that’s our procedure” and that the DCBOE is “asking citizens to help us.”
On Thursday the DCBOE told Fox News that it is reviewing the letter.
It is a felony to vote multiple times.
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Comer, who was joined by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations Ranking Member Jody Hice, R-Ga., continued to ask several questions of DCBOE Chairman Michael Bennett. The questions ranged from the last time the DCBOE updated its voter rolls to how the DCBOE would detect fraudulently cast ballots.
The DCBOE has continued to reiterate on social media that the procedure for updating its records is for voters to inform the board of somebody’s death or if they have moved.
“Please mark the envelope ‘Deceased’ & ‘Return to Sender’ so we can update our records,” the board said on its official Twitter account in response to conservative Article III Project Founder Mike Davis, who reported he got a ballot for a person who had been dead for six years. “Presumably, the deceased person’s family did not inform the BOE when s/he passed.”