Tom Montgomery/My Turn
Recently, it was reported that the oldest person in America died. Or did she? In April of 2021 it was widely reported by the press that Hester Ford, the oldest living American, had passed away. Mrs. Ford was either 115 or 116 years old when she passed.
Like many Americans born over a century ago, Mrs. Ford was born “at home” and the official records show two different birthdates for her. But we do know that the devout, great-great grandmother was at least 115 years old when she passed away on April 17th, 2021. This put her in extremely unique company.
There are very few people alive today with any direct memories of World War I, the Spanish Flu Epidemic or the Jazz Age. There are even fewer world-wide who have ever survived for more than a century. There are even fewer who live to be 110 or more. According to health experts there is currently no one living in the United States who was born prior to 1905.
However, according to voter registration records there are currently 98 people in Marin County alone who are a hundred years old, or older. There are 5 people in Marin County who are 112 years old or older. And there are two registered voters in Marin County whose date of birth is listed as January 1, 1900. If this information is correct, it would mean that Marin County has a collection of some of the oldest people in existence.
Los Angeles County currently has 3,886 voters on the rolls who are 109 years or older. Rather impressively at least one individual on the voter rolls of LA County has a listed birth year of 1801. This would mean that somewhere in LA County there is a voter who was middle-aged during the American Civil War.
San Francisco County currently has 310 registered voters who are 109 years old or older.
The State of California has roughly fifteen thousand registered voters with a birthdate listed that would make them over the age of 110.
How did this happen? Logic suggests that our State does not have fifteen thousand voters over the age of 110. If so, Hester Ford’s passing at the age of either 115, or 116, would not have been international news. So, logically we must assume that these fifteen thousand voters were not born 110 years ago, but are more likely deceased, or inaccurate data was submitted. This is a problem regardless of the reason. Voter registration data should be accurate. Listing an accurate date of birth is not that hard. Banks, gyms and even the DMV manage it all the time.
There is no immediate evidence to suggest a nefarious purpose behind this collection of extremely old voters on the rolls. The odds are, for the ones with a voting history, that a data entry mistake has been made but it also indicates that no one is checking the accuracy of the data either.
Inaccurate voter registration information adds a layer of confusion to any election and is particularly costly for campaigns. Should someone running for any office be wasting money sending campaign mailers to a “voter” who probably passed away 20 years ago? Should not the various registrars of voters and the Secretary of State have a more attentive approach to data accuracy than the DMV? One would hope so.
So, in the event that we actually do have two voters in Marin County who are more than one hundred and twenty years old, shouldn’t the county be planning a massive birthday bash for these two local treasures?
(Tom Montomery is the vice chair of the Marin GOP.)