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The Dead Voters Society

If you are registered to vote in Franklin County, Illinois, there is an almost 50-50 chance you are dead. Or live somewhere else.

The small county in the southern part of the state has nearly twice as many registered voters as voting-age adults, according to a report released last week by the Washington-based Public Interest Legal Foundation.

“Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud.”

Comparing voter registration records and census data, the organization found 141 counties in 21 states where voters exceed voting-age adults. Michigan (24), Kentucky (18) and Illinois (17) had the most counties in which voter rolls contained more names than the number of people who are old enough to vote.

“Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud,” the organization’s president and general counsel, former federal prosecutor J. Christian Adams, said in a statement. “Close elections tainted by voter fraud turned control of the United States Senate in 2009. Too much is at stake in 2016 to allow that to happen again.”

Franklin County had the highest disparity between eligible voters and registered voters, with the rolls exceeding voting-age adults by 90 percent. Pulaski County, Illinois, had 70 percent more registered voters than people who could actually cast votes.

“Right now, we’re in the middle of a purge,” said Greg Woolard, Franklin County’s clerk and chief elections official. “I just took office in December. I don’t think there had been one previously for a few years.”

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has sent letters to election officials in every flagged county and state asking for an explanation. Kaylan Phillips, a litigation associate for the group, told LifeZette the organization had not received any responses so far, but will be keeping track of them.

More than 1.8 million dead people were still on voter rolls, and about 2.75 million people were registered to vote in more than one state.

“I think it is a concern how many there are, especially with the presidential election coming up next year, and some key Senate races,” she said. “This is a situation where there could be fertile ground for fraud.”

Phillips said elections officials should ensure voter rolls are accurate. “It seems like that’s not occurring,” she said. “There’s something going on, and it’s systemic.”

Problems with American voter rolls are not new. The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012 documented 24 million voter registrations — one out of every eight — that were no longer valid or were significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million dead people were still on voter rolls, and about 2.75 million people were registered to vote in more than one state.

David Becker, director of election initiatives at Pew, said he does not believe bad voter rolls are resulting in widespread fraud. But he said it is important to clean up the lists, “certainly from a perception standpoint.”

“America should expect to have a system that is up to 21st century standards.”

He added, “Of course, the fact that someone has a voter record doesn’t mean he’s cast a ballot. But America should expect to have a system that is up to 21st century standards.”

Woolard, the Illinois elections official, said it is difficult to keep up with voters who move. Alerting the voter registrar usually is not high on the list of priorities.

“When someone moves, we have no way of knowing,” he said “They don’t tell us.”

Pew helped a group of states set up Electronic Registration Information Center, a nonprofit that receives information from voter registration offices, driver’s license officials, the Social Security Administration, the post office and other sources.

Becker said the ERIC system has found 2.2 million voters who moved and 100,000 voters who died since 2012 just in the 12 participating states and the District of Columbia.