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Possible voter fraud surfaces in Asotin County

ASOTIN – The Asotin County prosecutor is investigating two cases of possible voter fraud in the Nov. 8 general election.

Following an official canvassing session Monday in the auditor’s office, Prosecutor Ben Nichols said he is reviewing documents to determine whether Class C felony fraud charges will be filed in Asotin County Superior Court.

At issue is a 63-year-old Clarkston man who may have signed his recently deceased wife’s name on a ballot envelope, and a 62-year-old Nez Perce County resident who allegedly attempted to vote in Washington and Idaho. Their names will be released when charges are filed.

If the cases move forward, it will likely be a first for Asotin County, according to the auditor and prosecutor.

“I cannot recall ever filing voter fraud charges,” Nichols said.

Auditor Darla McKay said she and Nez Perce County Auditor Patty Weeks discovered the dual votes shortly after the election. A man who had recently moved across the river to Idaho returned a mail-in ballot from Asotin County and later voted at a polling site in Lapwai, McKay said.

Nichols said the law clearly states that only one vote per person is allowed.

Because the polling site is on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, the FBI is looking into the case on the Idaho side.

The allegation of a man forging his late wife’s name was discovered during the auditor’s scrutiny of each ballot envelope. The woman’s signature was dated Oct. 19, before any ballots arrived in voters’ mailboxes, McKay said. When the auditor contacted him, the man reportedly denied any wrongdoing but changed his story several times.

“I received a phone call on Election Day stating there was a man bragging that he voted his dead wife’s ballot,” McKay said. “No names were given.”

During each election, all signatures on the outer yellow envelopes are compared to those on file, and any discrepancies are reviewed during canvassing by the chairman of the Asotin County Commission, the auditor and the prosecutor.

At Monday’s meeting, the panel went over 40 questionable signatures, several ballots that were placed in the wrong envelope and a few that were postmarked after the deadline. Each voter whose signature didn’t appear to match the one on file received a letter and a form to correct the issue before the final count, McKay said, along with a stamped envelope.

“We make it easy for them to resolve this issue,” she said.

Commissioner Brian Shinn and Nichols checked each discrepancy brought before the canvassing board to determine whether the ballot would be counted or discarded. Once the task was done, the auditor was able to complete the final tally and can now certify the election at 10 a.m. today.


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