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Prosecutors to challenge 110 voters

By Keith Ervin?? Seattle Times?? 29 April 2005

King County prosecutors will challenge the registrations of 110 more voters they allege are felons who should not be voting.

Yesterday's announcement brings to 648 the number of challenges filed by King County prosecutors, based on lists of voters who appeared to be felons whose civil rights had not been restored. The lists were produced separately by the state Republican Party and The Seattle Times.

A hearing will be scheduled before elections director Dean Logan. Logan has already canceled the registrations of 191 felons and is preparing rulings on 345 others who have undergone hearings.

Illegal voting by felons in November is one of the irregularities cited by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi in his lawsuit challenging Democrat Christine Gregoire's election victory. Gregoire beat Rossi by 129 votes in a manual recount, reversing Rossi's wins in two earlier machine counts.

In related matters:

? King County election workers have found another valid absentee ballot that wasn't counted in the November governor's election. It brings the number of uncounted ballots to 95.

The ballot was found during a "random review" of empty absentee-ballot envelopes, Logan reported in an April 22 memorandum to County Executive Ron Sims and County Council members.

? Pierce County reported that it found 14 uncounted absentee ballots during a recent search of records and had found 50 other ballots shortly after completion of the manual recount in December.

Auditor Pat McCarthy told The News Tribune of Tacoma the 50 ballots were duplicates that replaced original ballots that couldn't be read by counting machines.

? Pierce County, like King County, has acknowledged a problem with provisional ballots being counted at polling places before voters' eligibility was verified.
But unlike King County, Pierce officials gave a detailed report on their 164 mishandled ballots and other vote-counting problems to the county canvassing board before it certified election results in November.

King County's total of improperly counted provisional ballots has grown since January from 348 to 785.

King County prosecutors have completed their screening of 996 voters identified by the Republican Party or The Seattle Times as possible felons whose votes in November might have been illegal.

Of that group, prosecutors found that 283 were eligible to vote because no adult felony records were found and 46 others were felons whose rights had been restored. The registrations of 19 others were canceled by the time they were investigated.

Prosecutors have said it's nearly impossible to pursue criminal charges against illegal voters because that would require proving they knew they were breaking the law.

In their effort to clean up the voter-registration rolls, prosecutors have now begun investigating 55 more suspected felon voters whose names were submitted by the Republican Party this week.

"This project represents a significant effort on the part of our staff, but it is important to ensure that only those people who meet the legal qualifications to vote are permitted to do so," Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng said in a prepared statement.

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