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

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
File photo of returned ballots at the elections office in Marion County, Oregon.

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).

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.