(SNews) – Election officials in Virginia have announced this week that they found 19,000 dead people registered to vote in the state.
The discovery was revealed as officials are looking for ways to clean up the voter rolls.
The Virginia Department of Elections announced that officials found 18,990 dead people on the voter rolls.
However, they blamed the failure to remove the dead voters on a “computer coding error.”
“It was a computer coding error that missed between the date of the death being reported and the date of the death certificate,” Virginia elections commissioner Susan Beals said.
“We are in the process of building a new statewide voter registration system, and I want to make sure that the data we put into that system is as up-to-date as it can possibly be.”
Beals said that the names would be removed from the rolls and that she did not realize the magnitude of the problem.
“I knew that there was something there, but I didn’t know that it was this big,” Beals said, according to the local outlet WTOP.
The elections department said that it had obtained death records from the Virginia Department of Health, dating back to 1960, to check the system.
“As a result of these findings and process improvements, citizens can expect to see a significant number of names removed from Virginia’s voter rolls,” a press release from the department said.
The dead voters were discovered as the state works to update its system, including giving local registrars more jurisdiction to take dead people off.
The streamlined process will allow an obituary or family member’s notification to be used to take a voter out of the system, a process that required an official death certificate in the past.
“We have made it easier to identify and remove deceased voters more quickly,” Beals said.
“This is actually something that registrars have requested.”
The state elections department also said that it would be working to clean up the process for residents who live in areas of Virginia that border other states like West Virginia and Tennessee or Washington, D.C.
“Through a national database, general registrars may now verify if the death of a registered voter occurred outside of the Commonwealth,” the department explained.
“In the past, general registrars experienced difficulties confirming the death of Virginia voters who died in out-of-state hospitals or facilities.”
Beals was appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) in March 2022 to head up the department.
She had previously worked for several Virginia Republicans and served on the Chesterfield Electoral Board.
“I am committed to promoting and supporting secure, accurate, open, and fair elections in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Beals said in a statement at the time.
“I will strive to meet the goals of the department’s strategic plan which seeks to increase voter confidence in the election process and strengthen the security of the Commonwealth’s elections.”