Letter asks some voters to prove they're still alive

September 11, 2012 3:55:22 PM PDT
Thousands of voters in Harris County are being asked to prove they're still alive or they risk having their voter registrations canceled.

It's part of the state's plan to update records, but it has instead become the source of a lot of confusion.

The county voter registrar says he received about 300 calls Monday and then some more on Tuesday, all from people telling him they're not dead. It's all over a letter some voters received in the mail and they, along with some local leaders, are outraged.

"These are letters of people who are deceased. They have been declared dead but she's alive and well," Baptist Ministers Association President Max Miller said.

Among the living is 70-year-old Patricia Warren-Brown. She, like hundreds of others in Harris County, received a letter from the voter registrar's office.

"It's saying that somebody said I was deceased and I'm not," Brown said.

More than 9,000 letters were sent out late last week by the county tax assessor-collector and voter registrar's office on the instruction of the secretary of state. The letter threatens to remove recipients from the voter registration list if they do not verify they are alive within 30 days.

"I'm very much alive," Brown said.

Leaders in the minority community see it as a form of voter intimidation.

"It just looks like it's an attack for this election," Miller said.

But the county voter registrar says it was the secretary of state's way of abiding by House Bill 174, which was passed last year and requires the state to make comparisons using the Social Security death roll to notify counties of deceased voters who should be removed.

The registrar admits the state's list was unreliable and he says for now, to clear up any confusion...

"No one will be denied their vote in November. After the election, we will take it to see about removing those people that are actually dead," Harris County Voter Registrar Don Sumners said.

The county is still encouraging voters who received the letter to send in a response so they will be on file after the November election.


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