Increase Penalties for Voter Fraud Sought

A new law in Washington state now allows you to register to vote on the same day as the election. While that may make it convenient for procrastinators, one lawmaker is concerned it may also make it easier to commit voter fraud. Washington House Republicans’ Kelley Payne reports from the state Capitol.

PAYNE:  Voter fraud is not new to Washington state. There were 74 suspected cases of voter fraud in the 2016 general election that were forwarded to county prosecutors.

A new law that became effective in July now provides for same-day election registration. It’s hoped that will bring out more voters, but Aberdeen Republican Representative Jim Walsh is concerned it may attract what he calls “bad actors.”

WALSH: “We need to make sure that voter fraud of any sort, whether by bad actors voting or by bad actors working for the state overseeing elections – that the abuse is punished swiftly and thoroughly.”

PAYNE:
Walsh is working on legislation for the 2020 session that would increase criminal penalties for voter fraud. The 19th District lawmaker says increased access should be accompanied by increased security.

WALSH: “If we are going to make it easier for people to register to vote and to vote, we need to make sure that we make it more difficult to cheat and more expensive in time and dollars if you are caught cheating.”

PAYNE: Details of specific penalty increases are still being worked out, but should be ready in the bill for introduction in the 2020 session. Kelley Payne, Olympia.