5 SPD officers disciplined for potential violation of election laws
Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) announced disciplinary action for five officers who had used SPD precincts as their listed addresses for their voter registration.
Three officers received a written reprimand, while two others were suspended without pay for one day. Among those who were disciplined was Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan.
State law indicates that voters must register using a residential address, defined as “a person’s permanent address where he or she physically resides and maintains his or her abode.” Knowingly violating that law is classified as a Class C felony.
Of the officers who used precincts as their voter registration addresses, it was found that three lived outside of Seattle city limits, while another lived in Seattle “but outside of the [voting] district of the precinct he was registered at.” Two other officers investigated by the OPA no longer work for SPD, one of whom also lives outside of Seattle; the other resides outside of the district of their registered precinct.
A separate investigation is currently being conducted by the King County Department of Elections to determine whether the officers involved engaged in voter fraud. According to the OPA, that investigation remains “ongoing and, depending on findings, could result in a referral to a prosecutor for the filing of charges.”
That said, the King County Board of Elections (KCBE) also told the OPA that it’s “very, very unlikely this would be prosecuted.”
“In all likelihood, we would not even refer it to a prosecutor, because for them to do that prosecution is pretty high,” the KCBE described. “These officers would need to re-register with their correct address.”
The OPA had initially referred the case to SPD for a criminal investigation, but SPD did not follow through with that request, instead choosing to send it back to the OPA for an administrative inquiry.
Officers interviewed by the OPA claimed they weren’t aware of state laws mandating that voters register using a residential address, while citing concerns that “officers could be doxxed and their personal addresses made public.”
The OPA went on to note that “as (the officers) well know, ignorance of the law is not a defense.”
“This is especially the case for police officers who are entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing it,” its report reads. “Everyone, including law enforcement officers, is and should be equal under the law and held to the same standards.”