EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Lawsuits have been filed in several western Washington counties claiming auditors used uncertified voting equipment and manipulated thousands of ballots in an unspecified statewide race last year.
The Daily Herald reports the lawsuits in Snohomish, Whatcom and Clark counties seek a “full forensic audit” conducted in the same manner as one carried out in Arizona — which has so far yielded no evidence of widespread fraud.
The legal pursuits in Washington, expected to expand to more counties this week, are steered by lead plaintiff Washington Election Integrity Coalition United, whose leader, Tamborine Borrelli of Gig Harbor, has traveled the state in search of residents willing to join the effort.
One of those stops, on Aug. 15, was at a Snohomish church for an unofficial public hearing at which people testified about fraud and irregularities they say they saw or experienced. State Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls, helped organize the event, along with four other Republican lawmakers. He later emailed some attendees with a direct pitch seeking lawsuit participants.
Twenty-eight people from throughout Snohomish County signed on as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Sept. 16 lawsuit in Snohomish County Superior Court against Auditor Garth Fell. All are serving as their own lawyers.
“I’m not personally alleging that there has been any specific impropriety. I am not out there alleging massive fraud and they need to overturn the election,” said Art Coday of Woodinville, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for state Senate last year. “A forensic audit would go a long ways to reassure people things are as they should be.”
The notion of needing to reassure people of the integrity of elections is a mantra of former President Donald Trump — despite a broad coalition of government and industry officials calling the presidential election “the most secure in American history.”
Fell declined to comment on the specific allegations, deferring to county lawyers.
“We’re reviewing the complaint. We are aware that there are other counties named in similar lawsuits,” said Jason Cummings, chief civil deputy prosecutor for the county. “We’re disappointed that the themes of the Arizona auditing factions are trying to make their way into Washington.”
The suits are largely similar, but with Fell accused of using uncertified voting equipment, while the Clark County auditor is not.
Otherwise, in each suit, the auditor is alleged to have “engaged in wrongful acts, errors and/or neglect of duty” by allowing or facilitating “electronic manipulation of the voting results.”
The suits contend that approximately 6,000 votes were flipped and more than 400,000 were added or removed in one or more statewide races “before, during and/or after the Election.” They argue a part of that happened in the county where each suit is filed.
In the Snohomish County lawsuit, plaintiffs say the election integrity group filed a public records request in August for copies of actual ballots and were denied. They want judicial intervention to obtain the ballots for review.
The lawsuit asks the court to unseal the ballots as the election integrity group “stands ready, willing and able” to have Jovan Hutton Pulitzer conduct a forensic audit using technology he claims to have invented that can detect fraudulent ballots.
The litigation didn’t surprise Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
“This is the new reality on the ground for election administrators,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how wide a margin in the results. You call everything into question and it undermines the validity of everything in the process.”
Neither here nor elsewhere is anyone discussing the extensive audit trail compiled by local auditors, Wyman said.
“All these allegations and I’ve yet to see anything brought to a prosecuting attorney or the FBI that we could actually respond to,” Wyman said.