Pro-Rossi group finds felons voted in county




At least eight felons illegally voted in Thurston County in the November election, the Building Industry Association of Washington said Tuesday.

The building association is searching for possible illegal votes in its efforts to help Republican Dino Rossi in his legal challenge of the governor's election, which Democrat Christine Gregoire won by 129 votes after two recounts.
"This kind of stuff probably goes on in every election, but in an election as close as this, it does matter," said Erin Shannon, spokeswoman for the association.

The association said it found a total of 51 felons who voted in the election by comparing lists of convicts with voter lists in four counties: Benton, Lewis, Thurston and Yakima. The numbers brought the total number of felon voters the association has identified to 203. Seven felons voted in Lewis County, the group said.

The building association has searched about 62 percent of the statewide vote so far looking for possible illegal votes.

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman said no one informed her that there were felons suspected of voting illegally in the county, but she'd refer any possible felon voters to the county prosecutor.

"Remember, election laws are based on giving the voter the benefit of the doubt, and the voter is honest," added Wyman, a Republican.

Voters sign an oath on registration cards stating they have not lost their voting rights, they are U.S. citizens, they are old enough to vote, and they are a resident of the district in which they will vote, she said.

"If a voter signs and attests to that oath, we register them to vote," Wyman said. "The law doesn't allow us to go and do basically background checks on our voters."

When a person is convicted of a felony, the court sends notice to the county in which the person lives, and that person is removed from the voter rolls, Wyman explained. If the felon serves his time, they can have their rights restored and register again.

Counties don't receive notice when a felon moves there and registers to vote, and does not check a new voter's criminal history, so a felon previously removed may manage to register again, Wyman said.

Usually, felons are discovered on the voter rolls when a family member challenges their right to vote or they try to run for office, Wyman said.

The new numbers of possible felon voters are in addition to the 152 in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties already identified by the building association.

"That seems like a small number when you consider there were 2.8 million votes cast in this election, and there's no evidence that these votes cost Dino Rossi the election," said Kirstin Brost, spokeswoman for the state Democrats. "State law clearly states that in order to overturn the election, they would have to show these votes would go to Chris Gregoire."

The building association's information will have to be vetted before it will be used in the lawsuit challenging Gregoire's election, said Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane.

"We've got to check and double-check. It's always a laborious process," she said. "We are confident we will find more; how many more we'll find, we don't know."

Showing that enough felons voted to throw the outcome of the election in doubt would be grounds for a revote, Lane said.

The building association next will look for felons voting in Spokane, Clark, Whatcom, Kitsap, Skagit, Clark and Grays Harbor counties, Shannon said.

There may be more felon voters discovered in Thurston and other counties, she added. The building association is doing more research on the counties where it has released findings, she said.

Information on felons voting in Thurston County will be forwarded to Wyman's office, Shannon said.



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