SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. — Republicans in Skagit County said there are thousands of "anomalies" in the county voter rolls. They claim dead people, non-citizens and incompetent voters have cast ballots in recent elections. But what is really going on?
No one came to Marilyn Wheeler’s door. No one called or sent a letter, but somehow the 89-year-old Mount Vernon resident’s name ended up in a report to the Skagit County Elections office that said "voter may not be competent to vote” and listed her as a voter who should possibly be removed from voter registration rolls.
“It’s wrong for anybody to decide that I’m incompetent to vote,” Wheeler said when KING 5 informed her that her name was among more than 3,000 voter registration “anomalies” submitted to Skagit County Elections. Wheeler said she has voted for all 60 years that she’s lived in the county.
An elections official assured Wheeler that her name was in good standing in the voter rolls.
The report was filed by the “Skagit Voter Integrity Project,” led by the Skagit County Republican Party. In a series of emails, reports and spreadsheets submitted to the county since September of 2021, the party has claimed that its reports reveal evidence of widespread voter fraud in Skagit County elections and demands that the county investigate and clean up the voter rolls.
“It’s fraudulent research,” retorted Wheeler, who appeared lucid and whip-smart when KING 5 visited her home in October.
Her case is one of the numerous inaccuracies that KING 5 uncovered after receiving the integrity project reports through a public records request.
No one visited the tidy house on Razor Peak Drive in Mount Vernon, but the report appears to make a racist judgment about the couple that lives there.
“Citizenship should be checked; this voter has lived here four years and it takes longer than that to become a citizen,” a report dated September 2021 states.
When KING 5 knocked on the door, the man named in the report was blindsided that anyone had questioned his citizenship or his right to vote.
“We’ve been in the U.S. since ’95,” said Edwardo. “We are U.S. citizens. We have the right to vote in this country.”
The group says 45 “committed” volunteers have analyzed county voting records and canvassed neighborhoods, but nothing in the report explains who was suspicious of Edwardo or why.
“[It’s] very disrespectful to who I am as a person,” Edwardo said. “They assume what I am and who I am as well.”
Skagit County Republican Party Chair Bill Bruch submitted the original report and all the updates to Skagit County Elections. Bruch responded to KING 5 after the investigation aired.
"I found your reporting lacked the proper information, took things out of context, was not accurate and misrepresented the facts," the statement reads. "Additionally, I am extremely offended by the meritless accusations by the Chair of the Skagit County Democrats. It is unfortunate that we can't discuss important issues in our community as colleagues, without Identity politics and political propaganda."
Bruch has held up the report as evidence that elections fraud exists in Skagit County and Washington state.
The report states “at least 43 deceased voters cast a ballot” in elections.
In one spreadsheet submitted to the elections office in June, the names of 14 deceased voters were listed. The report appears to claim that ballots were cast in the voter’s names after they died, an obvious case of fraud.
The late Jerry Schreurs, of Guemes Island, is one of the names listed.
“He would be rolling over in his grave right now if he knew it because it’s just so much against what he believed in,” said Jerry Schreurs’ widow Elizabeth Schreurs when she learned his name was listed as a voter anomaly.
Elizabeth Schreurs said her late husband last voted in the February special election, and he died one month later. That information is supported by elections records that show Jerry Schreurs’s last ballot arriving at county offices the day before the February elections.
“He’d be livid. Absolutely livid that his name would be used in such a report,” said Elizabeth Schreurs.
Online obituaries cross-checked with county voting records show that all 14 deceased voters named in the June spreadsheet cast their last ballots before they died. Thirteen of them have been removed from the county’s voter registration database — the county was still waiting for an official confirmation on the 14th.
KING 5’s spot-checks of other anomalies in the report found errors in addresses that the canvassers said didn’t exist, homes that appeared vacant, and members of the military posted overseas — military members are legally allowed to remain registered at their last Washington home address and have their ballot mailed overseas.
The canvassers also listed numerous RV Parks and marinas listed as a voter’s “primary address” and declared they are illegitimate because they are not permanent residences.
“The state allows non-traditional addresses,” said Skagit County Elections Supervisor Gabrielle Clay. “There are many people who live on a boat. Their home is a slip at that marina."
Clay said someone listing a marina or RV park as their home address is not at all unusual and is perfectly legal as they truly spend time there.
Skagit County Auditor Sandy Perkins, who oversees the elections office, said the reports that the Republican Party submitted have not uncovered any fraudulent voter registrations.
“It’s frustrating, it’s very frustrating. It takes its toll sometimes,” said Clay, who is resigned to the likelihood that the fraud claims now come with the job.