What is preventing voter fraud in Washington state?
As the November election approaches, the number of questions that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman receives about election security and voter fraud goes up.
Like, “What would stop somebody who isn’t here legally from voting in Washington’s election?” KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross posed that one to Wyman.
“Well, it’s a big risk for them,” she said. “If someone is a non-citizen and they ever want to become a citizen, one of the questions on the citizenship test is ‘have you ever voted in the United States?’ Did you know that if you answer yes to that, you’ll be denied citizenship? People who are non-citizens and want to become a citizen know that.”
“Are there potentially some people on our rolls that are non-citizens? That is possible. Is it rampant? No.”
For example, Wyman compares Thurston County to Yakima County, which have similar populations.
“The number of registered voters in Yakima County is about 100,000, Thurston County is about 160,000, and it’s because we have a high migrant worker population in Yakima County,” she said.
Washington voter fraud
There are also incidents when people return more than one ballot. But Wyman says that there are safeguards to account for that. When it does happen, county election officials follow up with prosecuting attorneys. No such cases have been prosecuted in Washington, however.
“Part of that is because when you compare it to serious crime, voter fraud for prosecutors is not a serious crime,” she said.
“Probably, the most famous one was a woman, right after Rossi-Gregoire, who said that she registered her dog,” Wyman recalled. “And she had the voter registration card with her dog on it. She brought it to a Republican event and was touting it. And I pointed out that what she did was actually illegal. And the prosecutor didn’t want to prosecute because the woman didn’t actually attempt to vote. “
Another example of dubious voting practices comes from North Carolina where ballot harvesting happened. This is when campaign volunteers, or others, go door-to-door and offer to return ballots for voters. Whether or not they actually turn them in, or manipulate the ballots, is questionable.
This type of voter fraud is actually among Wyman’s concerns.
“We have safeguards in place,” she said. “Every voter has to sign their envelope and we check every one of those signatures with every one that is on file.”
“We did see some activity in Eastern Washington, in Yakima County, in a small election in a town. It was suspect,” Wyman said. “The county auditor rejected a lot of ballots. That’s how it got on our radar, because they were seeing a higher than normal rejection rate. Couldn’t prove that there was illegal activity, but there was some pressure put on voters. I remind people to not give a ballot to a stranger.”
Washington law states that family members can return ballots.
Listen to Dave Ross weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.