AUSTIN (KXAN) - The State of Texas is trying to clean up its voter registration records by mailing letters to voters who may be deceased.
"It is not intended to combat voter fraud. It is just a maintenance effort to maintain an accurate data file for voting so that we can have an accurate database for Nov. 6," said Dee Lopez, voter registration director for Travis County.
Steve Robertson received one of the letters in the mail Friday.
"It said that I may be potentially deceased and that they need to act upon this and so I need to respond with a verification notice within 30 days or I could be canceled from the voter rolls," said Robertson. "My thought was, 'Wow! How could my specific name, my date of birth be triggered by some agency as being deceased?'"
A new law requires counties to verify their voter registration records and allows them to compare those records with the Social Security Administration's Death Master File. The comparison produces "weak matches" which means even having the same birthday or last name as a deceased person could put a person's name on the "unverified" list.
As many as 2,200 of Travis County's 600,000 registered voters received one of the letters in the mail, including Tracy Williams, who went to the tax office Monday to prove she was, indeed, alive.
"I was very surprised that some state agency got information indicating that I had died," said Williams. "This year, I think it's highly important that I do go and exercise my right to vote and the thought that that wasn't going to be an option for me, that was frustrating, and so I got here the first opportunity I could to make sure that didn't happen."
There are several things people can do if they receive one of the letters, said Lopez.
"They need to just fill out the form and return it to us or they can just call us and we can take a verbal response from them. At the very least give us a call. We can handle this over the phone. We can even handle it on Election Day. We do not want to disenfranchise anybody who is eligible to vote."
A response to these letters is requested within 30 days, but for those who miss the deadline, Lopez said they can call the tax office and verify and immediately be removed off of the unverified list.
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