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Can you vote twice?
  If you've moved from another state recently, you might still be registered there.
See the list at the end of the story to find links for state registration sites.
How could this happen?
  Officials say thousands of people move from state to state every year, while voter registration lists rarely undergo mass purging to weed out names of people who have moved away.
If people are aware they're registered in both places, they may have already voted thanks to early voting and absentee ballots.
Methodology
  The Journal Gazette performed its analysis by obtaining voter registration databases from Allen County election officials and the Florida secretary of state's election division.
The list of 220,000 active Allen County registered voters was then compared with the list of 12.2 million registered voters in Florida, using first names, last names and birth dates as criteria.
The resulting list was then examined by hand for other disqualifiers such as middle name or initial and suffixes such as “Jr.” or “II.” Middle names or initials that did not match were automatically thrown out. Partial matches were considered a single disqualifier; registrants with two disqualifiers were thrown out.
For example, Angela Coleman's Allen County listing gave a middle initial of “A,” but Angela Coleman's listing in Florida gave no middle initial, meaning it could also be “A” or it could be something else. That would be considered one disqualifier, and she remained on the list of matches. Jeffrey Bell's Allen County registration listed a middle initial of “S,” but the Florida registration listed a middle name “Stephen,” which was considered one disqualifier because the “S” might not stand for “Stephen.” But the Allen County registrant also listed a suffix, “Sr.”, while the Florida registration did not, another disqualifier. With two disqualifiers, that name was not considered a match and was removed from the list. There were 11 possible matches that were removed from the list because of two disqualifiers.
The list of 2,172 matches was then compared to voter history files. There were 192 who voted in the May 5, 2008, primary in Allen County; those 192 were then compared to Florida voter history files to see how many also voted there.
Charles Stewart III, head of MIT's political science department, said The Journal Gazette's analysis was very conservative and likely left out more actual matches than the few false matches it might have included. He cited other research showing that when matching first and last names and the last four digits of Social Security numbers, only about 1 in 10,000 are false, coincidental matches.
Clint Keller | The Journal Gazette
Large crowds of early voters made the process a two-hour wait at the City-County Building on Thursday.

Two-state two-step

Registered to vote in Indiana and Florida, thousands in Allen County could be doing the …

More than 2,000 Allen County voters appear to be able to vote in Tuesday's election both in Indiana and Florida.

Despite numerous changes in election law in recent years - most notably efforts in Indiana to make it harder to commit voter fraud - thousands of voters could be able to vote twice in the landmark presidential race, as well as cast ballots for down-ticket races such as Indiana governor, congressional races and municipal elections.

The Journal Gazette compared the list of 222,000 active registered voters in Allen County with the list of more than 12 million registered voters in Florida and found that 2,172 registrations have the same first and last names, middle names or initials and the same birth dates and are listed as active, eligible voters in both places.

Election officials say that although those people could vote in both places, they do not believe people will - and they say most people probably aren't even aware they could be voting twice. But officials also admit it is a glaring weakness nationwide.

Of the 2,172 matching names and birth dates, seven voted in both the Florida primary in January and the May primary in Indiana, according to voter history records.

Andy Downs, director of the Downs Center for Indiana Politics and the Democratic member of the Allen County Election Board, said the main cause for duplicates - besides the possible coincidences of people with the same name and birth date - is that it takes years for voters to be removed from registration lists.

"It takes a very long while (for voters) to drop off the rolls," Downs said. "I would not be surprised to learn a big number of those no longer live here but have not canceled their registration."

The law says voters cannot be culled from the list unless they actively cancel their registration or an involved purging process is followed. Allen County did no mass purging from its list between 1994 and 2006, Downs said.

John Stafford, director of the Community Research Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, said about 300 to 350 people a year, on average, move from Allen County to Florida, so having more than 2,000 registered in both places is not unrealistic.

Charles Stewart III, who heads the political science department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is an expert in election technologies and research methods, said he was surprised the number was so low, given that about 10,000 people a year move between Indiana and Florida, according to census data, and that names are so rarely removed from voter rolls.

Both states make it illegal to register if you are registered anywhere else. But there is currently no national system for checking voter registration across state lines - a problem compounded by the fact that to be taken off the registration rolls, you must take it upon yourself to cancel your registration in the state you left, something officials say seldom happens.

"It would be the last thing I would think of if I was moving," Stafford said.

That means anyone who moves from one state to another - or snowbirds who winter in Florida - could register and vote in both states without detection. Thanks to early voting and absentee ballots, they may have already voted in Tuesday's election.

"We haven't had any evidence (of people voting in two states)," said Matt Tusing, chief of staff for Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita.

MIT's Stewart said the few cases on the list of matches that happen to be different people with identical names and birth dates are far outweighed by people who should be on the list but are not because they registered differently in each state, such as by using "Bill" in one state and "William" in another, or using a maiden instead of a married name.

Of the seven cases in which matches voted in both places in this year's primaries, at least two pairs appear to be different people with the same name and birth date: Norma Martin, age 69, and Angela Coleman, 52.

The Norma Martin of Fort Wayne has an unpublished phone number, but is apparently married to Henry Martin. The Norma Martin of Miramar, Fla., said her husband's name is not Henry.

"I am not the one in Fort Wayne," Martin of Miramar said. "That's not me. I hope she's not as pretty as me."

Angela Coleman of Fort Wayne said she sometimes wishes she were the one in Florida.

"There is another Angela Coleman in Fort Wayne, too," she said. "We don't have the same birth date but we have the same credit union."

Other matches that voted in both places could not be located or did not return calls.

Election officials have tools to weed out people with the same name and birth date that newspapers do not, such as Social Security numbers. Both states collect the data but do not release it for privacy reasons.

The fact that voters do not appear to be double-dipping is not the point, Tusing said, because they could be, and there is currently no way to prevent it, though Indiana sends its registration list to the other 49 states every four days for the few that can perform comparison checks.

"This is an important analysis," Tusing said. "I think after this election cycle, you'll definitely hear a national conversation about this."

Tusing said there are already conversations between states, including Indiana and Florida, about a system for comparing lists, but officials first have to deal with the expected crush of voters in the current election.

A national voter registration system is unlikely, as the U.S. Constitution gives control of elections to the states, a principle backed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the contested 2000 presidential election. States are also unlikely to want to give up that power.

"(Rokita) has taken pause when federal officials talk about a national system," Tusing said.

Migrating votes?

The temptation to vote in two places might have been especially strong this year for Democratic snowbirds wintering in Florida: The Florida presidential primary was in January, when retirees were there enjoying the warm sunshine, but the primary did not count because it violated Democratic National Committee rules.

Meanwhile, the Indiana primary did not take place until May, when most snowbirds had returned, and featured the first contested Democratic presidential race in decades.

Now, both states are again battlegrounds. Polls show Florida and its coveted 27 electoral votes could go either way, and Indiana's status as a Republican stronghold is in some doubt.

Downs said this is not the first time the issue has come up in Allen County. In 2006, someone went to the election board to complain that a neighbor appeared to be voting in both states.

"We actually did check it out, and they were not registered in Florida," Downs said. "But we have had people with Florida driver's licenses try to register here."

Both states require prospective voters to be a resident to register to vote; both states' applications to register require the person to swear that everything on the form is true.

Indiana's warns that anyone signing who knows information on it is not true is committing perjury punishable by up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

While being a resident legally means that is where the person lives, neither state asks whether applicants are registered anywhere else.

And despite the problems, Indiana's system is better than it was just a few years ago. Since 2005, Indiana has had a statewide, computerized system for registering voters. That means anyone who moves from, say, Fort Wayne to Indianapolis, and registers to vote in the new location, is automatically flagged, and that person's old registration can be canceled.

"Before 2005, theoretically you could have been registered in 92 different counties and no one would know," Tusing said.

Although officials agree the system should be fixed, at least one said that if people were willing to try to vote twice, it might not be an entirely bad thing.

In the May primary, which generated unprecedented excitement for a primary in Indiana, only 34 percent of registered Allen County voters cast ballots.

"The silver lining would be that people care enough to vote twice," Stafford said. "Given the low turnout we've had in so many elections, that would be a good thing."

dstockman@jg.net

Are you double registered?

If you've moved from another state recently, you might still be registered there. Most states, and the District of Columbia, maintain Web sites where you can look up your registration or find your polling place in that state:

Alaska - http://webapp.state.ak.us/electionspolling/voterpollingplace.jsp

Arkansas - https://www.voterview.ar-nova.org/

Colorado - https://www.sos.state.co.us/Voter/secuVoterHome.do

Delaware - http://pollingplace.delaware.gov/default.asp

District of Columbia - http://www.dcboee.org/voter_info/reg_status/

Georgia - http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/polllocator/PollLocator.aspx

Hawaii - http://elections3.hawaii.gov/ppl/PPL_PS_10_010_1.ASPX

Indiana - http://www.indianavoters.com/PublicSite/Public/FT1/PublicLookupMain.aspx?Link=Registration

Iowa - http://www.sos.state.ia.us/elections/VoterReg/RegToVote/search.aspx

Kentucky - https://cdcbp.ky.gov/VICWeb/index.jsp

Louisiana - https://pollinglocator.sos.louisiana.gov/

Maryland - http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/where.html

Michigan - https://webapps.sos.state.mi.us/mivote/

Missouri - https://mcvr.mo.gov/voterlookup/

Nebraska - https://www.votercheck.necvr.ne.gov/

Nevada - http://sos.state.nv.us/elections/

New Jersey - https://voter.njsvrs.com/PublicAccess/jsp/UserLogin/Login.jsp

New Mexico - https://voterview.state.nm.us/

New York - https://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx

North Carolina - http://www.sboe.state.nc.us/VoterLookup.aspx

Ohio - http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/voterquery.aspx?page=361

Oregon - https://secure.sos.state.or.us/eim/vr/showVoterSearch.do

Pennsylvania - https://www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us/Pages/VoterRegistrationStatus.aspx

Rhode Island - http://www.sec.state.ri.us/vic/

South Carolina - https://webprod.cio.sc.gov/SCSECVoterWeb/voterInformationSearch.do

South Dakota - http://apps.sd.gov/applications/st25cers/

Tennessee - http://tnmap.state.tn.us/voterlookup/

Texas - https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp

Virginia - https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/Public/FT2/PublicLookup.aspx?Link=Registration

Washington - http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/OSOS/VoterVault/Pages/MyVote.aspx

Wisconsin - https://vpa.wi.gov/

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