Washington, D.C., has failed to remove from its voting rolls as many as 13,000 former residents who years ago moved to Prince George’s County and cast ballots there, making fraud by voting in two jurisdictions as easy as going to the polls in their old neighborhoods, The Washington Times found in a review of records.
In dozens of cases, names are listed as voting in both jurisdictions in the November presidential election. Provided a subset of the names, the District pulled paper records and said most did not vote, but that other voters accidentally associated their ballots with the former residents’ names instead of their own.
For others listed as voting in both jurisdictions, they had no such explanation.
“All voter fraud violations discovered by the District of Columbia Board of Elections will be referred to both the District and the United States Attorney General Offices for further review,” said D.C. Board of Elections spokeswoman Agnes Moss.
One voter acknowledged casting a ballot in both places, others became hostile or fearful when questioned about whether they had voted twice, and more expressed concern that their identities were being used fraudulently.
“People say that doesn’t exist and it does,” said Bev Harris of the voter fraud watchdog group Black Box Voting.
Democrats who have been deeply active for decades in the community of black, middle-class residents — who, by the tens of thousands have left the District for its eastern neighbor, though are still active in the District or employed by its government — said Prince George’s County residents using their former D.C. addresses to cast votes there is an open secret.
“It happens a lot,” said Ward 7 activist Geraldine Washington. “I know of people who still vote in their old address after they’ve moved [out of the District]. I mean years after. They do that a lot.”
Someone voted using Valerie D. Gray-Turner’s name and address in Northeast in November, and she does not have a daughter who shares her name.
“Not to my knowledge. I didn’t go down there and vote five months ago. I moved to Maryland in 2008,” she said.
Bisi D. Dada moved from Varnum Place Northeast to Upper Marlboro but is listed as eligible to vote in the District — and as having cast a ballot there in November.
“I did not vote in D.C.; I voted at Frederick Douglass [High School] in Upper Marlboro. How is that possible? You’re supposed to show your ID, and I don’t have any D.C. driver’s license. I don’t know who could have done that. I did vote in D.C. in 2008 but not in this last election.”
Definitive totals for votes affected are impossible to determine. Unlike the vast majority of other jurisdictions, the District would provide neither birth dates nor full middle names of voters, but gave only the middle initial.
The list of voters with names so unusual that there has been only one in the District and one in Prince George’s and who are listed as voting in both jurisdictions in the 2012 election is in the thousands. In an examination of 85, The Times confirmed through interviews and other public records that 15 were in fact the same person.
The District researched eight and said three were possible voter fraud cases, while the rest appeared to be someone accidentally signing next to the wrong name — an explanation that highlights the fact that the former residents were still on the rolls and could freely vote.
Indeed, the list of Prince George’s voters with unusual names that match those on voter rolls in the District was far longer, at 13,000.
Notification of relocation
Gary Scott of the Fairfax County Office of Elections said the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 “requires states who are receiving voters from another state to notify the state that they’ve lost them, which is what we do.”
Daneen Banks of the Prince George’s County Board of Elections said in an email that most of the voters identified by The Times never told the county where they were moving from when they registered. In the opposite scenario, she said, the county relies mostly on notification from voters who have moved or from the jurisdiction receiving them. In the event election mail is returned, she said, the county “begins a confirmation mailing process to try to determine whether the voter moved.”
Erich O. Koehler voted in Prince George’s, but someone cast a ballot using his name and his old address on South Capitol Street Southeast, according to voter rolls. He was concerned that someone was using his name fraudulently and said he was told he had done everything he needed to do to ensure that he was no longer registered in the District.
“That’s really disturbing because I moved out to P.G. a year ago, changed over all my [information] a year ago. When I moved to P.G. and changed over my license at the DMV, I asked and they said I didn’t need to do anything. They said I just couldn’t vote in two places,” he said.
Ms. Harris said the technology to keep track of people as they move between jurisdictions clearly exists.
“The minute you change your address at the post office, every bill you’ve ever had certainly finds its way to you,” Ms. Harris said. “There are definitely always thousands of people on the rolls who have moved out but have never been removed because they never notified anyone.”
The biggest risk of having nonresidents listed on the rolls is not the risk of people voting twice themselves, but of others appropriating their names by the hundreds, she said.
They are easy targets for those who would cast votes in other people’s names in bulk, often by absentee ballot, after scanning the list for names of people who hadn’t voted in years and would therefore not show up to hear that their vote already had been cast.
Some admitted to having voted in both places, but by accident. Randi B. Bazemore is a D.C. resident who attends the University of Maryland. “She thought she could vote there. They gave her the wrong ballot,” her mother said, but her mother believes that the law says that she should have voted at her permanent address. “It was invalid, so when she told me what happened I told her to come with me to vote and that’s what she did.”
Prince George’s said her provisional ballot was indeed thrown out because she had not registered — but that she was automatically added to voter rolls after the election.
Efforts in the District to require an ID to vote have not been successful. Last year, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics condemned a hidden-camera stunt showing a man inquiring about voting as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. at a city polling precinct during the primary elections.
The video, from conservative activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, addressed the debate on whether voters should provide identification before casting ballots. Mr. Holder has said such rules are unnecessary and could make it more difficult for legitimate voters to exercise their rights. Many conservatives say such laws would stop voter fraud.
Either way, the city’s election board was not thrilled to see a white man appearing to suggest to a Northwest poll worker that he was Mr. Holder, who is black, before running off to supposedly fetch his ID. In the video, a man asks whether Mr. Holder is on the voter roll. When the poll worker takes him to be Mr. Holder and appears ready to allow the man to vote, the man says he does not have ID on him. The poll worker says it is OK, as long as he was on the voter list and is, indeed, who he says he is.