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King County cancels voter registrations for felons

Associated Press

SEATTLE – King County has stricken the voter registrations of 99 convicted felons who apparently cast ballots illegally in last November’s election, and the prosecutor’s office is challenging the registrations of 93 more.

King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng challenged the first batch of questionable voters two weeks ago, after his office looked into a list the Seattle Times published earlier this year.

He announced the new challenges Thursday, saying they came from a list of about 800 alleged felon voters the Republican Party brought to his attention as part of a GOP lawsuit contesting Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire’s razor-thin margin of victory.

“This represents phase two of our ongoing efforts to remove the names of ineligible voters from the list that was referred to my office,” Maleng said. “We will continue this effort until all unqualified voters are removed from the list.”

State law requires that felons serve their sentences, pay any fines or restitution they owe, and get a certificate noting their voting rights have been restored before they can register to vote again.

Most of the 99 people who had their registrations canceled Thursday did not realize they had done anything wrong, county elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said.

“Our finding was … that people did not knowingly or intentionally violate the law. What was clear was that they were very surprised at what it took to get their voting rights restored,” Egan said.

The state Republican Party has questioned the legitimacy of some 800 King County voters, some of whom were on the Times’ list, and roughly 300 more in other counties across the state.

GOP governor candidate Dino Rossi and his party contend illegal votes and election workers’ errors irrevocably tainted the election results.

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

Letters were sent Thursday to 93 people on the GOP list, and elections officials scheduled an administrative hearing for next Wednesday to give people on the list a chance to refute the prosecutor’s challenge of their voting status.

“We are committed to keeping our voter rolls clean and ensuring voters meet all the legal requirements to vote in King County,” county Elections Director Dean Logan said. “Our voter rolls are cleaner today than yesterday, but there is more work to be done.”

State GOP Chairman Chris Vance said it was “a good start” for the county to strike the first batch of felon voters from its rolls.

“This is King County government acknowledging officially that 99 illegal votes were cast in a race that was decided by 129,” Vance said. “By the time the trial begins, King County might have already made our case for us by officially admitting that there were many, many, many more illegal votes counted than the margin of victory.”

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