Rantz: Media smears volunteers who found illegal voter registration

Oct 18, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm

Image: A Thurston County ballot box can be seen in 2022...

A Thurston County ballot box can be seen in 2022 (Photo courtesy of Thurston County)

(Photo courtesy of Thurston County)

Some progressive reporters really don’t like it when you question election security or integrity. It should make you wonder why.

KING 5 reporter Chris Ingalls has been seemingly obsessed with The Thurston County Voter Research Project (VRP). He’s covered the organization multiple times, committing longform coverage to their volunteer work. VRP is comprised of locals who hope to ensure elections are secure. This work includes updated voter rolls.

But Ingalls doesn’t seem to like the work volunteers are taking on. He derides these people as “Election Skeptics,” a silly term that doesn’t really even mean anything. Are they skeptical that elections take place? If so, what are they working to ensure are secure? It’s just meant to insult them and pass them off a kooks. But they certainly don’t seek kooky based on this Ingalls report.

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Activists doing what the county should

The report notes VRP volunteers “are trying a new tactic to uncover cases of voter fraud in Washington.” They already sound like a nuisance, which is likely the intent.

The tactic is simply filing formal voter registration challenges when they see something suspicious, like a voter who doesn’t live at an address they’re registered under or someone in this country illegally being registered to vote. Anyone can file these challenges with county elections offices, forcing the election auditor to review the details and make a determination. It’s a deliberate part of ensuring election security is top of mind and VRP volunteers are effectively doing what election auditors should be doing.

But Ingalls seems intent on you viewing these volunteers as paranoid; as if they’re wasting the auditor’s time. In fact, he highlights a claim they made that was wrong.

They were wrong, but not really

A woman told volunteers her mother is registered to a home she’s no longer living in. Using that information, the VRP filed a challenge. After the investigation, the auditor found the move was temporary — she moved to California to temporarily care of an elderly father. Though it’s unclear how long she’ll be there, the mother said she was going to move back to Thurston County. The auditor rejected the complaint.

But the only way the auditor’s office knew this information was by calling the voter and confirming the story.

The volunteers were right that the woman isn’t living at the address and it was the voter’s daughter who confirmed that. What if she did move? The auditor would have had no clue, and the voter would still get a ballot every election that she can’t legally vote in.

The possibility of cases like this is precisely why volunteers are doing the work. The auditor is obviously not doing this kind of voter registration hygiene under the claims that there’s no fraud going on. Ingalls makes that point throughout the piece, but it’s a position based on not doing any investigations. We’re supposed to believe because the volunteers got this wrong, they’re always wrong.

Inconvenient truth

Buried in the written story, not the on-air package, is that there have been nine total hearings for registration challenges. The auditor sustained five of the complaints. They have over a 50% record of spotting registrations that shouldn’t be on the books, including someone registered who isn’t a citizen.

Ingalls dismisses the non-citizen registration concern because the person never attempted to vote. She got registered in error — no big deal. But how often does that happen? If it’s a big deal that one person may be deprived the right to vote, why is it not as serious for one person voting when they legally should not? In either scenario, the one vote won’t likely change an election. Yet, these scenarios get different kinds of coverage.

There’s, undoubtedly, a faction of voters, almost exclusively on the right, that spread misinformation about election security and make baseless claims (media pretends Democrats did question Donald Trump’s election, including Seattle U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal trying to overturn the will of the voters). These conservatives do a tremendous disservice and end up convincing conservatives not to vote. Then, when they lose elections, they blame the system. But no one needs to cheat if you convince people not to vote.

Meanwhile, radical Democrats looking to end voter signature matching are not subject to demeaning coverage. Why is that?

Recent Rantz content: Democrats sue to kill Washington’s one election security feature, which makes fraud easier

No harm, no foul

In this case, the VRP volunteers are doing work the county should be doing: cleaning up voter rolls to ensure there’s no illegally cast vote or the possibility of one. That’s what we expect of our auditors. And folks who want to end so-called election denialism, which I want to stop, should embrace this work. Activists are finding out where they’re wrong (and hopefully accepting it), and, we’re finding out when they’re right (which some don’t seem willing to accept).

Ingalls should want to find any irregularities or election issues. Yet he labels well-intentioned people as election skeptics because they didn’t just think there were issues, but actually found some. How is that a good faith criticism? When you tell people they won’t find issues, you shouldn’t dismiss them when they prove you wrong.

Reporters are supposed to be curious. They should be uncovering irregularities. But critics like Ingalls don’t seem to want you to even ask any questions to begin with. Ask yourself why that is.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow him on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Media smears volunteers who found illegal voter registration