GOP leader seeks recount in a precinct won by Trump and Culp

Ballots cast for president, governor and a House seat in one neighborhood will be tallied again.

Doug Roulstone

Doug Roulstone

EVERETT — A Snohomish County Republican leader wants to double-check how voters in a precinct near Lake Stevens cast their ballots for president and governor in last month’s election.

Doug Roulstone, vice chairman of the county Republican Party, requested a recount for those contests and for an open state House seat in the 44th Legislative District.

Snohomish County election officials will conduct each recount separately starting as early as Monday.

Roulstone, of Snohomish, a retired U.S. Naval officer, isn’t expecting results will change but hopes it will increase confidence in the integrity of the county’s ballot-counting equipment and process.

President Donald Trump continues to make unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states. A multitude of lawsuits filed by the campaign have yet to reverse outcomes in any state, and the Electoral College is to confirm Democrat Joe Biden’s victory on Dec. 14.

Roulstone said he decided to seek a targeted recount after reading a paper on the potential for manipulation of votes tabulated with the Clear Ballot system, the system used in Snohomish County.

The study by University of Michigan researchers examined ballots cast in 2018 in Clackamas County, Oregon, and showed how the use of malicious software could alter ballot images, and thus votes, ahead of digital audits of election results. The authors concluded such audits “cannot be relied upon to verify that elections are free from computer-based interference” and the only way to certify accuracy of results is “with direct examination of physical ballots.”

“I am sure the machines are accurate. The point is to try and build people’s confidence up. They want to know nothing is happening here,” Roulstone said. “There may have been issues in Michigan, or Pennsylvania or wherever, but in Washington state, in Snohomish County, things are above board.”

Roulstone chose the Cassidy precinct north of Lake Stevens and east of Highway 9. Lake Cassidy is within its boundaries.

In the Nov. 3 election, it had 654 registered voters, of whom 577 cast a ballot, according to results compiled by the county Auditor’s Office.

Its voters strongly favored GOP candidates.

Republican President Donald Trump won the precinct handily. He got 315 votes while Democratic candidate Joe Biden, now president-elect, received 234. Other presidential hopefuls garnered the remaining votes.

In the gubernatorial contest, Republican Loren Culp performed even better, receiving 356 votes to incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s 211.

The third recount is in the contest between Democrat April Berg and Republican Mark James for the seat now held by Rep. Jared Mead, D-Mill Creek. Mead did not seek re-election as he now serves on the Snohomish County Council.

Mark James (left) and April Berg.

Mark James (left) and April Berg.

Berg won the election handily and will take office in January. But James won this precinct with 348 votes to her 193.

Election workers pulled ballots for the precinct Thursday and Friday with a goal of getting under way Monday, said county Auditor Garth Fell.

Roulstone must pay for the recounts, which he said will wind up costing around $3,500.

This is not the first time he’s sought a limited recount.

In 2018, he ran against state Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, in the 44th District and lost. Afterward, he requested votes be tallied again in two precincts.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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