Theft of brother’s ballot earns 10 days in jail

EVERETT — A one-time county elections worker who tried to steal her brother’s right to vote was handed a 10-day trip to the Snohomish County Jail.

Deborah Thorpe, 55, pleaded guilty Friday in Everett District Court to two counts of official misconduct, a gross misdemeanor.

The judge also ordered Thorpe under community supervision for two years and to pay a $250 fine.

The Snohomish woman entered a plea that allows her to deny any wrongdoing while admitting there’s enough evidence to convince a jury she’s guilty.

Police arrested Thorpe Wednesday. An arrest warrant was issued after she failed to show up for court in August.

Thorpe ran into trouble in 2007 after her brother Alan Skyles drove 400 miles to find out why he didn’t receive an absentee ballot at the family cattle ranch in Idaho.

County officials told him they didn’t mail him a ballot because he’d lost his right to vote. He was listed as a felon on voter registration rolls.

Skyles isn’t a felon, but his sister is. He quickly told county officials Thorpe likely had committed the crime.

The two have a long-standing dispute and Thorpe had access to county computers during her three-week temporary job with the county auditor’s office in 2005, he told police.

Thorpe denied using the computer to change data. She told police her only job was to compare signatures and count bundles of ballots.

Investigators say they found Thorpe’s electronic fingerprints on at least five record changes in the main voter database, including two unauthorized changes to her own voter record that erased a 1996 felony conviction that made her ineligible to vote.

In addition to changing her brother’s voter eligibility, she also was accused of tampering with the voting status of two former neighbors. She also changed the database to list those people as convicted felons, stealing their right to vote.

Election officials said they weren’t aware Thorpe was a convicted felon when they hired her for temporary work in 2005. Temporary employees at the time weren’t required to pass a background check. That changed in 2006 when the county adopted a policy requiring all county workers to undergo background checks.

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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