Gracey Duncan seemed to be the type of Floridian a nonprofit voter-registration group wanted to get on the rolls to start participating in elections. But two problems stood in the way: Gracey is a cat. And she’s dead. “Why is my (dead)cat getting #voterregistration apps? This is #2,” Gracey’s confused former owner, Julie Duncan, asked her local election supervisor via Twitter. The easy answer to Duncan’s question is that a database mix-up or mismatch led the nonprofit Voter Participation Center to think “Gracey Duncan” was the type of person — a minority or single woman — the liberal-leaning group wants to register ahead of the presidential election.
But because Florida is the nation’s most crucial swing state with a history of election controversies, the seemingly simple snafu led to a more complicated debate between elections officials, advocates and political science professors over how the state regulates voter-registration drives and rolls. None expressed concerns about voter fraud because of multi-step voter-ID requirements.
Still, the controversy has intensified in recent weeks as the Washington-based Voter Participation Center began conducting one of the nation’s largest voter-registration drives by mail, contacting 4 million potential registrants in 20 states, including about 630,000 in Florida, in March alone. And in trying to register so many people, the center has mistakenly identified a few dead people, contacted already registered voters under their maiden names or, in Duncan’s case, a pet.
That has confused voters and irked elections officials.
The center says it’s just trying to get underrepresented people more of a say at the ballot box. So it’s targeting specific profiles of potential voters: African Americans, Latinos, millennials and single women — groups that have a tendency to strongly back Democratic candidates. Finding these people, however, isn’t easy. It requires the center to buy data from direct mail firms and other companies that assemble profiles of people based on public and corporate records.
Full Article: Dead cat at heart of Florida election controversy | POLITICO.