State asks for details on GOP ballot collections

Kitsap County Democrats have received reports that Republicans have hired people to go door to door collecting ballots with the promise that they will be delivered to the auditor's office.

Michael Arnold, chairman of the Kitsap County Democratic Central Committee, said he had also heard about a man who had been riding on Washington state ferries and was telling commuters that he was collecting ballots.

Arnold said he did not know for certain that such unusual ballot collections were indeed happening in Kitsap County — though such incidents have been reported in the past week in east King County — but wanted to warn voters to not hand over their ballots to anyone they did not personally know.

Benton Strong of Washington State Democrats said Tuesday that Republicans have been sending paid canvassers door to door to collect ballots, and that the Secretary of State's office has asked the Democratic and Republican parties about ballot collections in King County.

Katie Blinn, co-director of elections, contacted the state Republican and Democratic parties, as well as their counterparts in King County, and the campaigns for Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee, and requested documentation on any voter ballots that had been collected.

"It has been brought to our attention that candidate campaigns and political parties are requesting voted ballots from voters at social events, voters’ homes, unofficial ballot drop locations, and other places," Blinn wrote.

"While such activity has become common practice for voter registration drives, and for missing or mismatched ballot declaration signatures, we have greater concern about campaigns and political parties asking voters to hand over voted ballots. If an organization fails to submit a voter registration application or ballot declaration to the elections office, the voter usually has the opportunity to learn of this failure

early enough to submit another application or declaration before the deadline. But if an organization fails to submit a voter’s ballot by the 8 p.m. deadline, the voter has no opportunity to submit another ballot.

"The result is disenfranchisement," Blinn wrote.

Blinn asked for information on the ballots collected, including the voter’s name and address, when and where the ballot was received, and the names of staff or volunteers who collected it. She also for information on when and where ballots were delivered to the elections office, and gave a response deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7.

In a Nov. 6 response letter to the state's Elections Division, Kevin J. Hamilton said the Washington State Democrats, the King County Democrats, the Democratic Coordinated Campaign and the Jay Inslee for Washington campaign had specifically told their campaign workers to not collect ballots.


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