Dead man receives absentee ballot

Berkeley Brean
Created: October 16, 2020 07:39 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A man who died 10 years ago is still listed as an active voter in Monroe County- and received an absentee ballot from the Board of Elections. 

"My feeling was how could this happen," says Karen Noll. "How could this happen actually, an absentee ballot for somebody that's been dead for 10 years?"

That ballot had arrived at Karen and Jim Noll's home this past week. It was addressed to Karen's father Donald J. Gunther. Gunther had run Gunther's Food market on Saint Paul Boulevard before moving to Florida 25 years ago before dying in 2010. And yet, there was a ballot. 

"It really is concerning to see for someone who has been dead for 10 years and never lived here," says Jim Noll. "How did this ballot turn up?" 

As of late September, more than 94,000 absentee ballots were requested in Monroe County. That's a 400 percent increase from 2016. The one in Donald Gunther's name came from the Monroe County Board of Elections, complete with a ballot envelope and a return envelope. 

News10NBC went to the board of elections and searched its public records. It turns out Gunther's ballot was requested on Sept. 30 with a signature signed by someone with the middle initial "J". 

That style of signing was different from how Gunther signed his name on RGE ID and his Florida driver's license. For one, he didn't include his middle initial on those. 

"Because of all the questions about the legitimacy of the mail-in votes this concerned me, " says Karen Noll. 

Something else to keep in mind: on Sept.. 24, the State Board of Elections emailed the commissioners of Monroe County board. The subject line was "Voter List Maintenance -- Deceased". The contents of that email said that Monroe County had to work on getting the number of deceased people off the rolls as the elections process continued. 

There was a lot of work to do: the email noted that there were 15,204 "potential deceased" people listed. The county had to purge at least 1200 of them. 

The Democratic election commissioner emailed me saying they're researching the ballot, but they haven't given an explanation yet. 

Early voting starts a week from Saturday.  

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