Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Tougher regulations should be made for voter fraud

 

February 19, 2013



The Secretary of State’s office sent out a press release last week letting the media know about possible voter fraud involving two of the initiatives on last year’s ballots.

According to the press release three signature collectors, who garnered 8,000 signatures between them for Initiatives 1-517 and I-522, produced signatures that didn’t match names and addresses on file.

Initiative 517 was Tim Eyman’s initiative which deals with the “initiative process” and I-522 deals with genetically engineered food.

According to the Secretary of State’s office a high percent of signatures collected by these three should be considered fraudulent.

“The Elections study showed that one solicitor for I-517 was responsible for sheets bearing 599 signatures, many not valid. A check of each signature showed about 53 percent were valid, but the rest were invalid, many with signatures that didn’t match the one on file for the voter by that name and address,” the statement reads. “A second I-517 solicitor had an even worse batch. Of over 3,000 signatures, less than 5 percent were valid. The same solicitor also turned in apparently fraudulent signatures for I-522, with only 4 percent of the 2,371 signatures found to be valid. A second I-522 signature-gathered was even worse than that, with less than 2 percent of the 2,112 signatures accepted as valid.”

Thank goodness these petitions didn’t effect the initiatives’ certification due to the fact that the number gathered far exceeded what was mandatory.

“This kind of disrespect of the voters and our cherished initiative process cannot be tolerated, and I want these cases fully investigated, and if, appropriate, as it certainly appears, I want these people prosecuted,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said. “I’m sure that sponsors of ballot measures demand that their solicitors be accurate and honest, but we’ve always feared that use of pay-per-signature encourages bad behavior. The good news is that we do have rigorous fraud-check procedures and law enforcement that takes this seriously. I am glad that we are reviewing petitions with a very careful eye, setting aside questionable petition sheets for additional signature checks.”

So, what do we do now? How do we ensure that voter fraud doesn’t exist?

Well, that’s probably not going to be easy and most likely will always be a problem to some extent. People are still questioning voter fraud in the 1960 Kennedy election.

Bill Frezze, a contributing writer to Forbes online suggested in August 2012 that each voter gives their fingerprint before they vote.

“Dipping a finger in indelible ink to show that you have voted may sound primitive, but it’s quite fitting given the deplorable state of our politics. Sure, it may not stop ineligible voters from filling out a ballot—at least not right away—but walking around with a blue finger for the three or four days it takes for the ink to wear off will give the wider community plenty of opportunity to identify voters who really shouldn’t have. All it takes is a hot line to tip off prosecutors and you’ve empowered 300 million people to keep their eyes and ears open for cheaters,” Frezze writes.

He also suggests that voters with that blue finger could wear it as a sort of badge of honor saying to their peers, ‘I voted, what’s your problem.’

Using peer pressure tactics to encourage people to vote may not be a bad idea.

How would that work here in Washington where we have a mail-in ballot system?

This would force voters to get off their butts and vote at a polling station where I.D. can be checked at the door and fingerprints taken.

Because most folks who work at polling places do it voluntarily, this may even save the state money on postage, paper and staff time.

Of course, this wouldn’t eliminate all voter fraud but I would think it would cut it down.

As far as petitioners collecting signatures goes, if these three collectors are found to be guilty of fraud, they need to be charged to the fullest extent of the law. Maybe if others see what happens when they try to cheat the system, they will be less likely to do it themselves. This is a Class C felony and that felony should go on their records.

For now, legislators might want to think about creating stricter laws to help dissuade people from even thinking about cheating on petitions or ballots.

 

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