Dead goldfish offered vote in Illinois

THE only “agent of change” Princess ever supported was the person who changed the water in her fishbowl.

So election officials in Chicago’s northern suburbs want to know why voter registration material was sent to the dead goldfish.

“I am just stunned at the level of people compromising the integrity of the voting process,” said Lake County clerk Willard Helander, a Republican, who said she has spotted problems with nearly 1,000 voter registrations this year.

Beth Nudelman, who owned the fish, said Princess may have landed on a mailing list because the family once filled in the pet’s name when they got a second phone line for a computer.

“There was no fraud involved,” said Nudelman, a Democrat who supports Barack Obama. “This person is a dead fish.”

The paperwork sent to a “Princess Nudelman” likely came from the “Women’s Voices, Women Vote” project, which sent nearly 1 million mailings to Illinois households in August using a list that mistakenly included some pets, said Sarah Johnson, a spokeswoman for the not-for-profit group that encourages single women to vote.

The mailing list, purchased from a vendor, included names from warranties, magazine subscriptions and other sources, Johnson said. The group attempted to screen out obvious pet names.

“Fido’s not going to be left on there, but if a cat is named Polly, she may be,” Johnson said.

The Illinois mailing generated 63,500 returned voter applications, Johnson said. Applicants were instructed to fill in a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number so election officials would be able to validate their identity.

“We obviously don’t want to add more work for any election official,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, our goal is same as theirs: to give as many people as possible the chance to make voices heard in our democracy.”


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