Foreign national avoids prosecution after illegally voting in Washington 28 times



(The Center Square) – In Washington state, there is a presumptive right to vote when a person registers either through the Secretary of State’s Office, the Department of Licensing or DOL. While state officials have noted that illegally registering to vote or voting illegally in an election is a Class C felony, some counties have declined to prosecute in every reported instance of voter fraud.

According to public records obtained by The Center Square, between January 1999 and February 2023, 13 foreign nationals illegally cast a total of 48 ballots in Clark County. Nine of those individuals had registered to vote through DOL, three registered using an SoS registration form, and one person registered online.

According to an email sent by Clark County Elections Officer Luba Ross, “all 13 identified persons came to us and informed us that they are not the U.S. citizens and requested their voting history for the immigration/naturalization purposes. They did not receive any ballots after it was discovered they are non-citizens.”

Among the foreign nationals, one illegally voted 28 times starting in 2000 before they were removed from registration in 2019. Like the other 12 foreign nationals, Clark County Elections did not become aware of the situation until the individual reached out inquiring about their voting record while attempting to become a naturalized citizen.

According to an email written by Clark County Elections Director Cathie Garber, “I immediately wrote back to them and explained since they are currently not a U.S. citizen, they are not eligible to vote in U.S. elections and should not have been registered to vote and participate in the election process. I explained the declaration on every envelope they signed clearly indicated they must be a U.S. citizen, and also states it is a felony punishable by a maximum imprisonment of five years, a maximum fine of $10,000 or both. I provided them a link to the cancellation form. I also informed them that I would be providing the information to the Sheriff’s office for review.”

Garber also wrote that Clark County Elections lacks the authority to investigate a voter’s eligibility. Additionally, there is no state or federal government reporting requirement for voter fraud.

“Unfortunately, there is no nationwide tool that is made available to elections administrators to review and ensure a person who has completed a voter registration application is actually a U.S. Citizen,” Garber wrote in the email. “When a voter registration application is filled out, we are required to view the ‘four corners of the application’ and believe the information to be true and accurate. There is a declaration that must be signed and states they declare they are a U.S. citizens and the information on the voter registration form is true.”

The email further states that since being removed from the voter registry, one of the reported foreigners is now back on but listed as “inactive.”

“It is possible that this voter could have been naturalized and obtained their citizenship in the meantime,” the email stated. “We have attempted to contact the voter to confirm, but we have not heard back.”

According to public records, there have only been three individuals charged by the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office for ineligible voting and/or voting multiple times in an election – two of those cases were ultimately referred to a diversion program. The third case was for a misdemeanor charge.

In one instance, the defendant had a prior criminal record going as far back as 1984 and included the following:

Two counts of careless driving (a gross misdemeanor)Attempting to elude police (a class C felony)Four counts of driving with a suspended driver’s license (gross misdemeanor)Harassment (class C felony)

According to a Clark County Prosecutor document, the office declined to prosecute because “the interest of justice and the community, as well as the defendant, would be best served by referring defendant into a Diversion Program, as opposed to continue prosecution of formal charges and proceeding with prosecution thereon at this time.”

Convicted felons were ineligible to vote in Washington state until 2021 when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law automatically restoring their right to vote after they are released from incarceration.

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