A Maryland group with loose ties to a tea party organization in Texas says it has found evidence of ballots cast at polling places in the state long after the voters were listed as deceased, but has not decided what to do with the information.
Election Integrity Maryland has turned over information to state and county election board officials on 9,000 people listed on voter rolls in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore city who, it says, are deceased or have an improper address.
Asked whether the group has found evidence of voter fraud in the state, Election Integrity Maryland President Cathy Kelleher said it has.
“We have evidence of it we've not made public yet because we're quintuple verifying,” she said. “We have evidence of voters voting long after their deaths.”
Kelleher declined to say how many instances her group has found.
The group does not target one party as opposed to another in its investigation of voter rolls, she said.
Although Election Integrity Maryland describes itself as a nonpartisan organization, it says it was “empowered” by a Texas group called True the Vote, which critics say has engaged in efforts to disenfranchise voters in predominantly minority communities.
True the Vote began in 2010 as an offshoot of a tea party group called the King Street Patriots in Texas, Kelleher said.
Maryland ACLU attorney David Rocah said groups such as Election Integrity Maryland are pushing claims of voter fraud to justify voter identification laws.
“Voter ID laws, in addition to being a solution in search of a problem, have a disproportionate effect on minorities, poor people, and the elderly, all of whom are statistically much more likely to lack the forms of ID that would enable them to vote,” Rocah said.
Mary Cramer Wagner, director of voter registration for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said she had spoken to Election Integrity Maryland representatives, but there was no mention of votes cast by deceased voters.
She also said irregularities in the voter rolls the group claims to have found were being reviewed, but that the group uses a different methodology from the election boards.
Election boards are required by federal and state law to take specific steps before removing someone from voter rolls, such as an official death notice or repeated attempts by the election board to verify a person's address, she said.
“In the 11-plus years I've been here, I've not witnessed voter fraud,” Wagner said.
The election board has to be careful before removing a name from a voter roll because it does not want to disenfranchise an eligible voter, she said.
If the state required voters to show an official identification, such as a driver's license or a passport, fraud could be prevented, Kelleher said.
Election officials and academics who have studied the issue say voter fraud is extremely rare in the U.S.
In defending a Pennsylvania voter ID law in court this week, the state's attorney general conceded there was no proof of voter fraud having occurred. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union says the state's voter ID law would prevent an about 750,000 legal voters from casting ballots.
A report by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School found that about 10 percent of Americans do not have a government-issued identification card and 25 percent of blacks do not have one.
Kelleher said her group intends to check the voter rolls in each jurisdiction in the state and did not specifically target the three largest Democratic areas.
She said that while her group seeks to restore confidence in the electoral process in Maryland, she herself no longer puts trust in the system.
“I'm not too confident of election results, but look what I do all day,” Kelleher said.