Volunteer charged with voter fraud

Signature gatherer for state income-tax initiative being investigated by county

The elections division of King County is investigating a woman working for the Initiative 1098 campaign who is accused of submitting 350 fraudulent signatures for the proposal.
On Wednesday, the elections department noticed a discrepancy among the more than 385,061 signatures submitted by the 1098 campaign. After petitions are submitted and electronically imaged, the elections department combs through each page looking for phony signatures
"They look for problems like Mickey Mouse or Marilyn Monroe," said David Ammons, communications director with the Office of Secretary of State. "In this case we discovered some sheets that were all done in the same hand and in the same pen."
Ammons went on to say there seemed to be no attempt to disguise the effort, and on the backs of each sheet was the name of the same signature gatherer.
The State Patrol has jurisdiction over the matter and expects to finish the investigation by Monday. Once the report is out, King County Sheriff's Department will take over and prosecute. Tampering with election materials is a Class C felony and is punishable by at least a year in prison as well as a fine. The gatherer's potential punishment will depend on how she is charged on these multiple counts.
This case reminded Ammons of a similar voter fraud case in 2007. King County prosecutors charged six workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or ACORN, with fraud. The workers sat around in a library and used names in a phone book to fill registration forms.
Initiative 1098 is a proposal to create a state income tax for families with incomes of $400,000 or more ($200,000 for individuals), reduce property taxes by 20 percent and do away with the business and occupation tax.
The questioned petition sheets are a fraction of the 24,817 sheets submitted by the I-1098 campaign on July 1. The campaign submitted 385,061 signatures, not counting the questioned ones. It takes 241,153 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to secure a place on the November ballot.
Elections Director Nick Handy considered the matter an isolated problem. "This should not affect the underlying initiative check," Handy said.[[In-content Ad]]