By Christie Duffy
Ulious Fluellen passed away in 2003. But sample ballots and campaign fliers addressed to him continue to come by mail.
“I think they’re just using his name to get votes,” said Jersey City resident Lullita Fluellen.
His wife says he was well known in the area. When he died, an article was published about his service as the first African-American fire chief at the former military ocean terminal in Bayonne.
Despite his passing over 10 years ago, his name continues to appear on voter rolls, according to state records. They show he voted in the general elections of 2005, 2010 and 2012.
We showed Montclair State University political science professor and author Brigid Harrison what we found.
“There is no doubt that there is fraud going on the question then becomes why,” Harrison said.
NJTV News compared each voter’s name, birthday, zip code and voting record to those listed as deceased. And we found over 100 matches spread over nearly every county in the state, both Democrats and Republicans.
“Lots of times in these counties where there are really strong political parties, the GOTV, the get out the vote efforts are essentially people are paid to deliver votes. And in these cases it would appear that people were being paid and were turning out fraudulent votes,” Harrison said.
We found matches in every county except Salem and Warren. Hudson County had the most matches overall, which is where Fluellen lived and it’s also where Jackie Mincica’s mom, Marilyn Hallihan, lived for decades.
“I think someone knew that she passed and thought they could get away with voting in her name,” Minicia of Teaneck said.
Mincica’s mother was also well known in town. She says the mayor married her mom and husband Joe in their living room, and that Joe worked for the school system for years.
Marilyn Hallihan’s death certificate and federal Social Security records state she passed away in 2006 but state records show she voted in last year’s school board election.
“I think charges should be pressed against the person and there should be an investigation down the line into why they did it,” said Mincica.
The state Division of Elections declined to be interviewed on-camera but a spokesperson tells us they do check voter databases against death records and also that that fathers and sons with the same name and address can get mixed up. And in our analysis we did find cases like these. But both Jackie Mincica and the Fluellen family say there is no one in either of their families with the same name.
“With them sending the ballot here when they’ve been told he passed on,” Cynthia Fluellen said.
Officials in Hudson County say such instances are few and far between.
While officials in Ocean County also give a number of explanations for why these names are on the rolls. The chairman of the Ocean County Board of Elections says that some are due to human error — a vote scanned in by mistake. And that others are relatives with the same or similar names signing in the wrong spot.
For some cases, the county has no explanation because their documentation only goes back to 2008. But the chairman believes there is a good explanation anyway and he emphasizes the boards work to diligently root out any ineligible votes. He says they have reported such votes to the county prosecutor and not counted them.
Harrison was more skeptical.
“If you’re a candidate in one of those counties and you don’t do as well as you expected, I think that given this evidence, there may be reason to challenge the election and make sure through the county boards of elections that each vote cast was cast by a living voter,” she said.
When asked if officials should address this issue, Lullita Fluellen said, “They should because it’s not fair what’s going on.”
As for the families, they say they want answers on exactly how and why their loved ones’ names are still on the rolls.