Dead Voter Roll
In fact, at least 10,000 people on Missouri's registered voter list are dead. Target 8 obtained the state's massive voter database which lists residents who are eligible to vote, then cross-checked it for duplicate names with federal death records. The results show deceased people on voter rolls in every mid-Missouri county: 198 in Boone, 57 in Callaway, and 93 in Cole, including Robert Schrimpf.
"There's a lot of things that could have happened that just didn't happen, because you're depending on the Department of Health getting that information to you," explained Cole County Clerk Marvin Register.
The secretary of state's office generates a monthly list from information provided by Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services, then passes that list to county clerks statewide. When clerks get the list, they are supposed to remove the names of recently-deceased residents.
"This is their job, to purge their database," complained Schrimpf's widow, Betty. "Do it! What's the problem? Why is his name still on there?"
Target 8 asked the secretary of state's office if 10,000 dead people still registered to vote could cause problems next Tuesday.
"You have to think, 'Is it a concern that people would be willing to commit a felony and lose their voting rights forever and go to jail for up to 5 years and pay a $10,000 fine in order to perhaps cast an extra vote?' And probably the answer to that is no," responded Stacie Temple, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. Her office also noted there is no known case of someone fraudulently voting in place of someone who has died.
Temple also said the voter list is as accurate as it's ever been, after Carnahan removed the names of 127,000 dead people. But the problem still worries Register.
"If we had that list, it's going to take us a little while to go through it because we are in the middle of an election right now," he said. "But we will try to get through it just as quick as we possibly can. And we'll most probably do some of those names before this election is done, or before we get into this election, so we don't run into people voting who shouldn't be."
Betty Schrimpf hopes that finally includes her late husband.
"I never notified them that he died. It didn't even occur to me that I should," she admitted. "And you're saying that the secretary of state's office sends them notices based on the Department of Health's records? It's been 11 years. You can clean up a database in 11 years."
Gov. Matt Blunt, who was secretary of state just before Robin Carnahan, said potential voter fraud could have been eliminated if the Missouri Supreme Court had not rejected the state's new voter identification law which was due to take effect with the Nov. 7 election.
Columbia Missourian reporter Matt Wynn contributed to this investigation. He reports that Cole County said it has removed all 93 names of dead residents from its voter list.