How is voter fraud investigated?

Douglas County explains process after woman accused of double voting

Posted 1/30/18

In early January, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced charges against two Coloradans for allegedly double voting in Kansas and Colorado during the 2016 general election. One voter, Bailey …

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How is voter fraud investigated?

Douglas County explains process after woman accused of double voting

Posted

In early January, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced charges against two Coloradans for allegedly double voting in Kansas and Colorado during the 2016 general election.

One voter, Bailey Ann McCaughey, 20, is suspected of having voted in both Finney County, Kansas, and Douglas County. The other suspect, Que J. Fullmer, allegedly voted in Hamilton County, Kansas, and in Colorado, where he owns a home in Brighton.

McCaughey was charged with one count of election perjury and one count of voting more than once, according to a Jan. 4 news release from Kobach’s office.

As of Jan. 26, McCaughey was scheduled to make her first appearance in Finney County district court on Feb. 10, said her attorney, Paul Oller. She would not be required to enter a plea at that time, and Oller was still gathering information from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office to determine how they would approach the case, he said.

Oller said McCaughey was 19 years old, a Kansas resident and a first-time voter when the alleged double voting took place. She had moved from Douglas County, where her parents lived at the time, to Finney County in order to attend college there.

“It’s a nice, bright, 20-year-old girl that, her first time she votes, ends up being charged with two felonies,” Oller said.

McCaughey told The Garden City Telegram she’d voted at the polls not knowing her mother had submitted her mail-in ballot, calling it an “honest mistake,” the newspaper reported.

The Kansas Secretary of State’s office declined to comment further on the charges against McCaughey.

The charges, although brought forward in Kansas, also spurred Colorado officials into action.

Upon Kobach’s announcement, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office sent word to Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Merlin Klotz, explaining records showed there was a Douglas County elector named “Bailey Ann McCaughey” who received credit for voting in Douglas County’s 2016 general election.

“We do not know if the individual charged in Kansas is the same individual currently registered in Douglas County, but the name is fairly unique,” the letter reads, also recommending the county refer the case to the district attorney for investigation.

In a written statement, Klotz said Colorado has “one of the most advanced centralized voter registration systems” that helps prevent duplicate votes from being counted within Colorado. The county’s first step in processing ballots is checking the central database to see if a voter has already voted elsewhere in the state. Only the first vote processed would be counted, Klotz said, and the second vote is forwarded to the district attorney’s office.

A similar process happens at the state level, Klotz said. The Secretary of State’s office is able to compare voter registration files with “a large number of other states.”

“When a potential voter duplication is found, the Secretary of State refers the potential case to the county of origin who after preliminary review forwards it to their respective DA for consideration and possible prosecution,” Klotz wrote.

Klotz said the process identifies a small number of cases of potential voter fraud each year. Colorado also contributes data to the Kansas-run Interstate Crosscheck Program, which may be how Kobach’s office identified the two Colorado voters charged in January.

A spokesman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office confirmed they were investigating a case of an alleged double voting but declined to name the suspect or provide more details on the investigation. The spokesman could not provide a number of how many voter fraud cases the office has investigated in recent years, but said he was only aware of one other active case that is still pending.

As of the Jan. 4 charges, Kobach had obtained nine voter fraud convictions since 2015, when the Kansas Secretary of State received prosecutorial authority. There were three other cases pending in addition to McCaughey and Fulmer’s.

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