After the Washington Post released a recording an hour-long call in which President Donald Trump pressured the Georgia secretary of state to recalculate votes this weekend, Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said the call was “inappropriate.”
“We are very administrative in nature and not very political. So at any level it would be inappropriate for a candidate to pressure any elections administrator to ‘go find more votes.’ That’s not our job,” Dalton said of elections officials. “Our job is to register people who qualify to be registered and to count the votes accurately.”
Dalton has served as Spokane County Auditor since 1999. Since then there have been several extremely close elections, with discussion of voter fraud, including the 2000 presidential election where George W. Bush beat challenger Al Gore after extensive recounts.
Then in 2004 the Washington gubernatorial election between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi, which ended with Gregoire ahead by 133 votes after multiple recounts and a lawsuit.
“We were under a lot of pressure and accusations of ballots being found or ballots being suppressed, which just wasn’t correct,” Dalton said. “As a professional it’s painful to have lived through and it’s painful to be watching this happen, and it’s not just Georgia, there have been other states that have been pressured too.”
When Trump tells Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger he could say that he’s “recalculated,” it isn’t clear what the president is referring to, said Benji Cover, associate professor of law at the University of Idaho. There have been recounts and audits in Georgia, and electors met last month to certify the results and send them to Vice President Mike Pence for counting Wednesday.
“In none of those processes did anyone even allege widespread fraud. No lawyer actually said that to a judge in court,” Cover said.
Dalton said she learned in 2004 that it takes time to rebuild confidence in election administration.
“We’re just going to have to continue explaining to the voters frequently and consistently how the elections administration process works,” Dalton said.
That education process means explaining how mailing, returning, receiving, validating and county ballots all work, Dalton said.
On a smaller scale, Dalton has dealt with candidates questioning the integrity of Washington elections without evidence. Former gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp filed a lawsuit against 11 election officials, including Dalton, last week claiming voter fraud in the November election.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Kim Wyman released a statement saying the Culp campaign had not provided substantive evidence of voter fraud. Election officials in Spokane, including Dalton, unanimously voted to certify the election in November.
So while Dalton looks ahead to the next countywide election in February she holds sympathy for election officials in Georgia.
“All of us across this country who are elections administrators just want people to be able to register to vote, cast their ballot and have those votes counted accurately,” Dalton said.
Staff writer Kip Hill contributed to this report.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.