Politics & Government

Only a few folks attempted voter fraud in 2016. Those who did could be in big trouble.

A recent study found the rate of voter fraud in Washington state was low. Still, some people who attempted fraud are being referred for prosecution.
A recent study found the rate of voter fraud in Washington state was low. Still, some people who attempted fraud are being referred for prosecution. Staff photographer

Five cases from the South Sound are among more than 70 instances of suspected voter fraud that Washington state officials are forwarding to county prosecutors.

After a study of Washington’s voter rolls, state officials identified 74 cases of possible voter fraud in the 2016 general election, according to a news release sent Friday by the Office of the Secretary of State, Washington’s lead elections agency.

Two of those cases were from Pierce County, and three were from Thurston County.

Out of the 3.36 million votes cast in Washington state last fall, that means the overall rate of suspected voter fraud statewide was 0.002 percent.

In Friday’s news release, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the results of the study show there is no widespread voter fraud in Washington state.

Still, county prosecutors could pursue charges in those 74 cases. State law says that anyone who intentionally votes more than once, or even attempts to, is guilty of a class C felony, which can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

“We are continually vigilant to protect the integrity of the voting rolls and the public’s confidence in elections,” Wyman said in the news release. “We work closely with local elections officials, and when we find credible evidence that illegal voting activity has taken place, we turn it over for further investigation.”

Most of Washington’s cases of potential voter fraud — 59 of them — involved people suspected of voting in more than one state, the Secretary of State’s office said. All of the suspected cases in Pierce and Thurston counties fell into that category.

The remaining cases mostly involved people suspected of voting twice within Washington. Only one case involved someone appearing to vote on behalf of a dead person.

All told, five states participated in the study looking at voter registrations. The others were Oregon, Colorado, Maryland and Delaware.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209, @melissasantos1

  Comments