02/14/2017: "Fraud Involving Signatures On Four Initiatives"
Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s Elections Division has reported potential fraudulent activity to the Washington State Patrol involving signatures on the four initiatives that were considered by Washington voters last fall.
The initiatives are I-1433 (labor standards), I-1464 (campaign finance laws and lobbyists), I-1491 (court-issued extreme risk protection orders temporarily preventing access to firearms) and I-1501 (seniors and vulnerable adults).
“Our Elections Division identified these suspicious signatures during the process of validating signatures,” explained Wyman. “The number of potential fraudulent signatures didn’t affect whether any of the initiatives would have been certified for the ballot. However, we take fraudulent activity by initiative signature gatherers seriously. That’s why we have passed this on to the State Patrol for investigation of this matter.”
After signature sheets for these four initiatives were submitted to the Elections Division, all of the sheets were examined for fraudulent signatures. During the Elections Division’s petition preparation and signature verification process, petitions from several signature gatherers were identified as containing potential fraudulent signatures. A total of 96 petition sheets from seven different signature gatherers were identified as containing potentially fraudulent signatures.
Over the last month elections staff identified all petition sheets collected from the seven signature gathers. The petition sheets and the signatures of registered voters from the voter registration database were placed on an electronic image and submitted to the State Patrol for the investigation.
State Elections Division Director Lori Augino said the discovery of potentially fraudulent activity does nothing to threaten the validity of the three measures (I-1433, I-1491 and I-1501) that were approved by voters in 2016. Voters did not pass I-1464 in the General Election.
“All four initiatives clearly had a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify for the General Election, regardless of these questionable signatures, which is why they were certified last summer by our office to appear on the General Election ballot,” Augino said.