Memphis’ local paper, the Commercial Appeal, has done something unusual: real investigative journalism. And it’s even relevant: voter fraud in the days before a primary.

Using information available to the public (including the Election Commission), the CA found:

  • Voters who died decades ago remain eligible to vote.
  • Felons are ineligible to vote, but are hired at taxpayer expense to work the polls and oversee the election process. We’re talking everything from sexual assault to burglary, gun violence, prostitution and drugs.
  • 20,000 residents who have moved out of Shelby County since 2002, yet remain on Shelby County’s voter rolls.
  • Nearly 1,700 of those have returned to vote, sometimes years later.
  • A total of over 66,000 Shelby County residents have moved since 2002, which means that potentially tens of thousands are no longer residing in the district in which they’re registered to vote. This was an issue in Democrat Ophilia Ford’s 13 vote “win” over Terry Roland, an election that has since been nullified by the state senate because it was proven dirty.
  • 18,000 of the moves were to locations outside of Tennessee, another 2,900 to other counties. Yet the paper identified at least 1,600 incidents in which these names were used to cast votes.

In a follow-up story, the CA reports:

Using the same public records available to county officials, the newspaper identified at least 500 deceased residents still on the rolls — many shown as active voters.

One of these registered voters died in 1954!.

Moreover, John Harvey has found 575 people on the rolls over 100 years of age — including three people that are 177 years old! (I’d love to know how many of these people voted recently.)

Much of the research done by the CA was accomplished by matching the names of the county’s 603,000 registered voters against National Change of Address data maintained by the Postal Service, a practice that is growing among election commissions across the country. Shelby County, of course, does not.

Republican Representative Paul Stanley sponsored a bill that would require an annual statewide NCOA search, but pulled it “because of Democrat opposition to any tinkering with voter rolls.” Imagine that.

Yet by law, Tennessee’s 95 county election commissions must have an address verification program in place to help keep voting rolls clean. What has Shelby County done?

Last July, the commission passed an address verification program to be done once every two years, but it wouldn’t contact all voters, just those who didn’t vote or update registration. Those voters are then to be mailed a card that can’t be forwarded. If a card returns as undeliverable, the voter is to be deemed inactive — the first step toward purging.

That’s right — Shelby County has initiated a program to purge the voting rolls of all names that haven’t been fraudently used. Way to “clean up”!

Note that the CA didn’t even begin to address the whole “are you a citizen” issue. I suspect there are hundreds more violations under that rock.

One final thought: Tennessee is increasingly voting Republican (and proudly gave 11 electoral votes to W instead of native son Gore in 2000). Yet because the Tennessee House has a Democrat majority, all 95 county election commissions across the state have a Democrat majority, no matter what the makeup of the county’s electorate.

Here in Shelby County, Election Commission Chair Greg Duckett served as state counsel to Senator Gore and worked on the Clinton-Gore transition team. And member Maura Black Sullivan worked for US Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., was President of the Shelby County Democratic Women, and served as Vice Chair and Assistant Treasurer of the local Democratic Party.

Not exactly non-partisan supervisors of our democratic processes.

Ah, well. Life goes on and today is election day in Shelby County as the first primary of the year is being held. As the Commercial Appeal says:

It’s Election Day. Get out and vote: If exercising your right isn’t reason enough to vote, consider this:

You might just bump into a dearly departed friend or relative casting a ballot.

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