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Call Kurtis Investigates: Are Dead Californians Voting?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Just days away before the big election CBS13 looked into how some people are voting long after they died.

We pulled voting records in our area and compared them to federal death master index, which shows people who have died.

We found only one questionable name that may or may not have cast a ballot. But we've learned it's been a problem in other parts of the state.

Our sister station KCBS/KCAL in Los Angles reported back in May voting records of John Ceckner, who died in Palmdale in 2003.

The World War II Vet's gravemarker shows where he was buried 13-years ago. But records show, he somehow voted from the grave in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010. It was a surprise to his daughter, Annette Givans.

"It just astounds me. I don't understand how anybody can get away with it," said Givans.

Edward Carbajal Jr.'s dad died in La Puente in 2001. But state records show a vote was cast in his dad's name 8 times after he died.

"I mean that should be something that everybody whose involved with these types of things should know whose alive and who isn't," said Carbajal Jr.

A voter's rights group calls this troubling.

"What it does is that every single vote that's cast by a dead voter cancels out a vote of a lawful voter," said Ellen Swensen with True the Vote.

San Joaquin County's Registrar of Voters, Austin Erdman says his office does not let dead people vote.

He says the San Joaquin County's Registrar of Voters computers and the human eye scan the signature on every single ballot.

"Those signatures are compared against our signature on record," said Erdman. And if they don't match he says the vote is not counted.

But state records show Timotea Asican of Stockton voted in the governor's election in 2014, although she died 11 years earlier.

Erdman admits his office didn't know she died and mailed her an absentee ballot that year.  But he looked into it and says his records show a ballot never came back and that Asican never voted.

So why do state records show otherwise? CBS13 reached out to the Secretary of State's office which says it is looking into it.

J Christian Adams with Public Interest Legal Foundation says, "You're not supposed to have dead people on the rolls."

After the hanging chad fiasco in the 2000 Presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, mandating statewide voter registration systems that eliminate ineligible voters.

"They just blew it off for over a decade," said Adams.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla's spokesperson tells CBS13, that's not true and the state is in compliance, despite dead folks like Cenkner and Carbajal casting ballots.

Givans thinks about her father, "He's a diehard Democrat and I was thinking if someone was voting under his name, he's probably rolling in his grave, if they were voting Republican," she said.

Erdman says he's prosecuted any voter who voted when they shouldn't have.

So how does the state know to take people who've died off the voting rolls?

According to the Secretary of State's office, the California, Department of Public Health notifies the state when someone dies. They then notify the counties, who remove them from the rolls. However, we've been told by the elections folks, if the person dies out of state, they may not know the voter died.

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