Hundreds of unregistered Montgomery County residents may have been allowed to cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election, the county’s chief election official said Wednesday.
And as Voter Services Director Joseph Passarella described it, that decision, made by a low-level staffer, eventually morphed into an unwritten policy that mistakenly added more than 3,000 people to the county’s voter rolls over the next three years.
“I’m not trying to make excuses,” he told the county’s three-member Election Board at a special hearing. “The decision that was made was a big decision to make without seeking advice from me. But ultimately, as head of the department, it was my responsibility to know what was going on.”
Passarella’s statements came five days after the county issued a statement conceding it had accidentally inflated its voter rolls for years by adding people who might never have intended to register at all. As Passarella struggled to explain the mix-up to officials, his answers indicated he had been unaware of a growing problem in his office.
The confusion began, he said, with the 2008 race, which drew thousands of first-time voters to the polls. That year, hundreds arrived at Montgomery County polling places claiming to be registered only to find they weren’t on the county rolls, Passarella said.