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Voters listed as felons convicted as juveniles

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Republican Dino Rossi’s legal challenge to the governor’s election includes a list of alleged felon voters, but on that list are perhaps hundreds of people who were convicted as juveniles and never lost their right to vote, the Seattle Times reported Thursday.

The Times was able to check 462 of the more than 1,100 names on the list using a Washington State Patrol database. Of those, 165 had only juvenile cases.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party said more than 200 of the alleged felons in King County were convicted as juveniles. The list contains names from 13 counties, but the vast majority are from King.

“It could very well be that people we have on our list didn’t have their voting rights taken away,” Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane said.

Rossi, the GOP candidate for governor, is challenging the election of Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire in Chelan County Superior Court. Rossi says illegal votes and election workers’ errors irrevocably tainted the election results. He’s pushing for a new election.

Gregoire won the race by 129 votes, after a hand recount of 2.9 million ballots. Rossi had won the first two counts.

“They should scrub their list for other errors,” said attorney Jenny Durkan, a lawyer for the Democrats. “This is a huge error.”

Durkan said Republican attorneys should apologize to the people erroneously listed as voting illegally and amend the list “so these people’s names never have to go into an official court file.”

Washington law and the state constitution prohibit felons from voting unless they have had their rights restored. That requires meeting all court-imposed obligations including community service and the payment of restitution and fines.

In Washington state, juveniles who are tried as juveniles are prosecuted in a civil trial, not a criminal one, said Assistant Attorney General Jeff Even, who is representing the Secretary of State’s Office in the Rossi lawsuit.

County election officials across the state often fail to remove felons’ names from voter-registration rolls. In some instances, felons reregister. County election officials say they don’t have the resources to run a criminal background check on every new voter.

Lane said she was not sure how people convicted as juveniles ended up on the felon list. Those offenses are included in the Washington State Patrol criminal database Rossi used to find felons who voted, but they are coded to denote a juvenile case.

Lane said Rossi’s staff continues to collect evidence and will submit the names of additional felon voters.

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