Verify: Spokane man finds out how exchange student got ballot

#Verify: Spokane man finds out how exchange student got a ballot

SPOKANE, Wash. – Voter fraud has been a big concern this election cycle.

A viewer sent KREM 2 News with his own concerns. Cameron Minkler said a foreign exchange student from Thailand he hosted more than a year ago got a ballot in the mail.

KREM 2 went to the Spokane County Auditor’s Office with Minkler to figure out how this could happen.

“You hear about it but you never really think about it so it was really surprising to me. I just want to know how it happened and how we can better the process," said Minkler.

So, how could a non-resident register to vote and what is in place to keep those who are not eligible to vote from voting?

"We do have process in place because he signed up through a voter registration drive that was done by an outside organization and it may also be possible that he didn't even fill out the paper work,” said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.

Dalton said they had an issue with a registration drive in 2015. She said they found registration forms were being filled out with false information. She said registration drives are not really monitored. People are paid for each registration form turned in, not if the voter's information is correct. Washington State registration requires either a valid driver's license number or the last four digits of a social security number.

"Those were checked back against the appropriate databases, match your name and the particular ID. So in this case the last four digits of the social security number. It did not match," said Dalton.

It is unknown if the student knowingly put in a fake social security number or if it was forged by someone else.
What we do know is whenever there are any questions about registration information, a letter is sent out asking for more information to verify the person's identity, but not their citizenship status.

In the meantime, that person is considered a provisional voter, until that paper is sent back. In this case, by the looks of the ballot, it would not have been counted because it is missing a bar code. It is a provisional ballot. This is just one way Dalton said they try to make sure no one who is not legally allowed to vote, votes. But she says one law, or lack thereof, is holding them back.  

"Because we do not have the real ID act because we don't have citizenship and immigration status verified at the department of licensing we aren't able to determine if a person is a citizen or an immigrant or illegal or legal, that is a weakness, we acknowledge," said Dalton.

Dalton said they depend heavily on people being honest about their citizenship status when they go to vote.
As for Minkler he said he feels better knowing the student's ballot would not have been counted. He said he was also left thinking about the Real ID question.
"It's a precious right to vote and I think we need to make sure it's as secure as it can possibly be," said Minkler.

If you have any questions about validity of voting or irregularities in the process, tweet or Facebook us using the hashtag #VerifyVotes.

(© 2016 KREM)


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