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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Doorbelling group checking voter rolls in Spokane County not government-sanctioned, Auditor’s Office says

Ryan Dosch, voter services specialist, left, and Kit Anderson, supervisor at the Spokane County Elections Office, roll out carts with ballots headed to the post office in this October 2018 photo.   (DAN PELLE/The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Auditor’s Office is not involved in a voter registration canvassing effort led publicly by an activist who’s targeted Democratic and progressive candidates and causes in Washington state.

Auditor Vicky Dalton said Friday her office had received at least a pair of inquiries about the Washington Voter Research Project’s doorbelling campaign to check the voter rolls.

“It was not a lot, but it was concerning enough to just make sure that residents in this area understand that this is not being conducted by or on behalf of the county auditor’s office or the Secretary of State,” Dalton said.

Residents are not legally required to answer questions posed by canvassers, Dalton said. Neither the county auditor nor the Secretary of State has a record of for whom or what a voter cast their ballot, Dalton said, and anyone claiming to know that information isn’t being truthful.

The organization’s website includes a YouTube video featuring Glen Morgan, who introduces himself as an activist and former candidate for the Thurston County Assessor’s Office. Morgan is a frequent filer of Public Disclosure Commission complaints, often against Democratic or progressive candidates, and was responsible for a mailer in a state Senate race in Spokane in 2018 that urged voters to write-in a candidate who wasn’t actively seeking the office.

“I’ve been drafted in, with a bunch of other people, to work on an effective and efficient way, as efficient as we can make it, a way to review our voting rolls, to clean them up, to make sure that they’re accurate,” Morgan says in the video.

In a text message on Saturday, Morgan said canvassers “are rained to comply with all relevant laws.” He accused Dalton of “defaming private Spokane residents just trying to be engaged and helpful in a process that many other auditors in this state have appreciated.” 

Morgan said he was encouraged to perform the canvassing because of issues he saw in the 2004 gubernatorial race between Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi, an election decided by 133 votes that featured multiple recounts. He also said the issue “had a lot more attention since the 2020 elections.”

The Gregoire/Rossi recount was eventually appealed to a Chelan County Superior Court judge who ruled that the evidence at trial only demonstrated fraud on behalf of four voters for Rossi, a Republican, and not Gregoire, a Democrat. Skepticism of the certified 2020 election results was condemned by Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who said such claims undermined confidence in democracy.

Dalton said there were several legitimate reasons the voter rolls, a list of registered voters at a specific address and their history of participating in elections, may show inconsistencies. Many voters are either serving in the military overseas, or on an extended mission trip. Divorcees may list their former address while finding new permanent housing, she added. There may be dozens of voters listed at an address, but many of those people may be listed as inactive voters.

“The record may exist, but just because they exist doesn’t mean the voter is getting a ballot in this election,” Dalton said. Signatures are also checked on the ballot against those on file with the office during tabulation, she said.

Residents can help auditor’s offices keep accurate voter rolls by notifying the office if they receive a ballot for someone who doesn’t live at an address anymore, and update their voter record when they move.

A similar warning was issued by the Thurston County Auditor in November about the Voter Research Project.

Voting in this year’s special election will end Tuesday, with Spokane voters mulling an extension of a property tax levy to pay for EMS services. In-person registration for the election ends when the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. To register for the August primary election by mail or online, voters must submit their information by July 25.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version to include comment from Glen Morgan about the communication of Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.