Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KNKX, along with NPR, will bring you all the information you will need as we close in on Election Day 2016. Stay up to date with local and national issues along with stories about how this election cycle will affect you and your family here in Washington and around the world.Also be sure to check out our series on Sound Transit's Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3. You can read more about ST3 and this series here. Be sure to stay up-to-date with our national coverage too by clicking here.

Washington, Oregon Uncover Smattering Of Cases Of Double-Voting In 2016 Election

File photo of returned ballots at the Marion County Elections office in late October.
Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
File photo of returned ballots at the Marion County Elections office in late October.

The Oregon and Washington Secretaries of State announced Friday that they have referred dozens of cases of double-voting or dead people voting in the last presidential election for possible criminal prosecution.

Oregon, Washington and three other states teamed up on a voter fraud investigation separate from the presidential commission on election integrity the Trump administration created. The states did a data matching study, comparing voter registration and ballot return records.

They found 73 people in Washington and 48 in Oregon appear to have voted twice—either in two of the states or twice in their home state. In addition, one Washington and six Oregon households were flagged for mailing in ballots belonging to dead people. 

Washington State Elections Director Lori Augino said the relatively few cases uncovered show "there is no widespread voter fraud happening."

"So we hope that voters across Washington remain confident in our system and remain confident in the fact that we are working to ensure that the system is accessible and secure,” she said.

Augino and Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson both said there is no evidence fraudulent votes impacted the outcome of any election contest last November.

Nearly 3.4 million votes were cast in the 2016 general election in Washington state and 2 million in Oregon. The rate of potentially fraudulent votes in Washington and Oregon was about the same.  

"The suspicious ballots discovered amount to just 1 out of every 38,000 ballots cast in Oregon (.002%)," Richardson, a Republican, said in a statement Friday. "Voters in Oregon can be confident that voter fraud is extremely rare in our state, and when we do find it, we will prosecute."

In Oregon, intentionally voting twice is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $125,000 fine. In Washington state, the maximum penalty is also five years but the maximum fine is for the felony is $10,000. 

The other states in the five-state election fraud study were Colorado, Maryland and Delaware. Colorado's investigation netted 48 people who appear to have voted twice. Some 2.9 million Coloradans voted last fall.

Augino said the multi-state election audit was conceived well before last November's election as well as before President Donald Trump made still-unproven allegations that millions of people voted illegally.

The technology and know-how to cross-reference voter records across multiple states was provided by the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.
Tom Banse
Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.