- - Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Democrats in Virginia are stopping just short of opening polling places in the graveyards to make sure every ineligible voter is counted. The state Democratic Party last week asked a federal judge in Alexandria for an injunction to block state and local election officials from deleting the names of ineligible voters. When the roll is called up yonder, in the updated hymn, the dead Democrats will still be here.

Election officials have compiled a list of 57,000 names of Virginians thought to have moved and put down roots elsewhere in the country. Election officials want to cross-check the names of nonresidents against the voter-registration lists and cross off the names of everyone who shouldn’t be voting in Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe is obviously polling well among the dearly departed because his party tells the court that “the need for relief is urgent.” The lawsuit argues that “the [State Board of Elections] is rushing to complete the purging in time to have the desired effect on the upcoming election.” The appropriate “desired effect” is to make sure that those who no longer live here don’t vote here. Every vote cast illegally cancels a legal vote.

The 13-page lawsuit warns on several pages that “the harm to the [Democratic Party of Virginia] and its members,” if the purge is allowed to continue, would be “irreparable.” This suggests that Democrats can’t win without the help of the temporarily dead.

When voter rolls aren’t cleaned up on a regular basis, the result is a voter-registration list that swells beyond the total number of residents. The Huffington Post reported in April 2011 that this happened in 14 out of the 102 counties in Illinois. Just last month, a federal court ordered Walthall County, Miss., to purge its voter rolls, which list 124 percent of the county’s voting-age population.

A federal law enacted 20 years ago states that elections officials have a duty to maintain “accurate and current” voter-registration rolls. Half of the states take this responsibility seriously by sharing voter rolls to identify duplicates. A prospective voter’s name, date of birth and the last four digits of his Social Security number are carefully checked twice to make sure a legitimate name is not deleted. It’s in the nature of records that there will be errors, but a system of provisional balloting is already in place to allow anyone mistakenly purged to cast a vote on Election Day. Nobody would be denied the vote.

What Democrats obviously fear is that the double-checking of voter rolls can expose voter fraud of the sort that torpedoed the candidacy of Wendy Rosen, a Maryland Democrat who last year challenged Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican. She dropped out after admitting that in several elections she voted in both Florida and Maryland.

Virginia officials counted 7,934 duplicate names on the Fairfax County voter rolls, and the Democratic lawsuit asks that every one of those be allowed to cast a ballot on Nov. 5. Ghosts have rights, too, we suppose, but participating in elections with voters not yet dead is not one of them. We suggest that Mr. McAuliffe court another constituency. A live one might be more useful.