EVERETT – Snohomish County election officials said Tuesday that they’ve found a single uncounted absentee ballot from the November election.
Workers discovered the unopened lavender-colored envelope as they sought documentation on how and where votes were cast by 27 felons and by four dead people.
They came upon the uncounted ballot while looking through 43,000 empty envelopes for the original absentee or provisional ballot envelopes signed by the felons and the dead.
Opening the overlooked ballot would require a court order, Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger said.
More unopened envelopes, with uncounted ballots, could be amidst the stacks of envelopes that still need to be examined for felon and dead voters.
Snohomish County’s find comes days after officials in King and Pierce counties announced they had found uncounted ballots.
Whether these are ever opened may be decided in the legal challenge of the gubernatorial election that is set for trial next month.
Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire won by 129 votes following three counts.
Republican Dino Rossi led after the first two counts and is contesting the outcome, saying the true winner is unknown because of the number of ballot counting errors and invalid votes cast throughout the state by felons and dead people.
In a hearing Tuesday in Wenatchee, Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges said the election contest trial would begin May 23 and take up to two weeks. A preliminary hearing May 2 will set out the ground rules for what must be proved in order to win a new election.
Gregoire said Tuesday, “I really feel it’s time to put it behind us and move on.”
As Snohomish County ferrets out information on how the felons voted, Terwilliger and Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis are taking steps to remove those individual from the voter rolls.
Terwilliger has purged the names of 11 felons who failed to have their voting rights restored. Next week, he’ll hold a hearing at which 13 other felons face the same fate.
No criminal charges have been filed against any of the felons. Prosecuting Attorney Janice Ellis said Tuesday that the Sheriff’s Department had provided her information from its preliminary investigation and she is deciding how to proceed.
Herald wire services contributed to this report. Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.