Washington Republicans casting doubt on vote-by-mail, but it's not new
Polls show a majority of Republican voters question whether election results can be trusted. Much of this can be attributed to former President Donald Trump and his allies.
But even before GOP activists organized to watch ballots boxes this year, and before the 2020 election, some Washington Republicans were sowing doubt about the state’s vote-by-mail system.
RELATED: GOP activists ready to spy on Washington ballot drop boxes to 'guard the vote'
It was January of 2020, just before Covid hit and months before President Trump lost his re-election bid. House and Senate Republicans in the Washington Legislature gathered for their once-a-week legislative session press conference. A reporter asked about a pilot project in King County to let voters cast a ballot by smartphone. The late-Republican state Senator Doug Ericksen of Whatcom County pounced. He used the question as an opportunity to assail Washington’s election system.
“We currently have vote-by-mail and that is voter fraud, happens every single day and it’s rampant and it’s real in Washington state," Ericksen said at the time.
Ericksen was an early Trump supporter who died last December after contracting Covid. Without offering evidence, Ericksen asserted that spouses routinely vote for each other and that parents vote for their adult children. He also alleged that election officials count ballots even if the signature doesn’t match or when the ballot envelope isn’t signed at all. When challenged for evidence of this, Ericksen said.
“The sky is blue, I mean it’s just reality in terms of what happens with the ballots," Ericksen said.
In fact, when ballots aren’t signed or the signature doesn’t match – they are set aside and the voter is contacted. That day in January of 2020, Ericksen and another Republican state senator extolled the virtue of in-person voting. And later that year, Ericksen announced legislation to do away with vote-by-mail. Now, two-and-a-half years later, the belief that mail balloting can’t be trusted has taken root among many Republicans. And some GOP candidates this year have made it a part of their platform.