Plea bargain deal reached in Clark County voter fraud case

Portland resident Jessica Walker admitted to submitting the ballot of her deceased mother, a Clark County resident, in July 2022.
File photo

Portland resident Jessica Walker admitted to submitting the ballot of her deceased mother in July 2022

Ken Vance, editor
Clark County Today

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has entered into a plea agreement with a Portland woman who submitted the ballot of her deceased mother in July 2022 to the Clark County Elections Department.

The plea agreement was entered in a hearing Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court before Judge Jennifer Snider. Portland resident Jessica Walker received 30 days service on a work crew after admitting to forging her mother Sandra Walker’s name and submitting the ballot to be counted on July 26, 2022. Sandra Walker, a Clark County resident, died on June 26, 2022. Jessica Walker made a tearful apology at Wednesday’s hearing, according to witnesses.

The Walker case was investigated by CCSO Deputy Jonathan Feller.

“Upon review of the information provided to me by the Clark County Elections Office and the interview with Jessica, probable cause does exist for the crimes of RCW 29A.84.650, Repeat Voting (1 count); RCW 29A.84.680(1), Unlawfully casting a ballot; and RCW 9A.60.020(1), Forgery committed by Jessica M Walker,’’ Feller wrote in his report, which was dated Sept. 28, 2022.

Feller also stated in his report that, “Jessica stated she was ‘sorry’ and said the aftereffects of losing her mother caused her to complete and send in the ballot. Jessica said she was, and still is, upset from her mother’ s passing and she has experienced frustration and a high level of emotions, as part of dealing with taking care of Sandra’s estate. Jessica did not have a specific rationale for submitting the ballot.’’

Rick Vermeers is a Clark County resident and a certified election observer. He followed the Walker case closely.

“I have researched 34 cases of suspected voter fraud going back as far as 1999,’’ Vermeers shared with Clark County Today. “These are cases which the auditor referred to the sheriff for investigation.  My sources were Public Document Requests (PDRs) submitted to the auditor, the sheriff and the prosecuting attorney. Of these 34 (cases), this is the first felony case to  reach Superior Court.  Some cases were determined to be unfounded by the sheriff, some cases were misplaced and never processed, for some the PA declined to prosecute, some were handled through diversion, some were dismissed outright by the prosecutor, and finally this one was resolved through a plea recommendation.

“The result is that there is little to no deterrent for voter fraud in Clark County,’’ Vermeers concluded Vermeers. “The prosecuting attorney’s failure to actually prosecute voter fraud over the last 24 years is quite another issue.’’

Vermeers made a request to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Megan Finch that he be allowed to read a victim’s statement at Wednesday’s hearing. Vermeers stated that Finch never forwarded that request to Judge Snider. Ultimately, he was not allowed the opportunity to make a statement.

Vermeers had prepared the following statement:

“As a voter in Clark County and as an certified elections observer, I am a potential victim of this crime. By illegally submitting a ballot in Clark County, Jessica Walker attempted to cancel someone’s vote and potentially my vote on multiple issues. Given the maximum penalty for this crime, 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, this plea deal is a mere slap on the hand. I urge the court to reject this deal in favor of a more harsh penalty which will deter others from attempting the crime of voter fraud, which goes largely unpunished in Clark County.’’

Recently, Vermeers was critical of the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for electing not to file criminal charges in the case of Alexandra Batman, an area resident who admitted to multiple instances of illegal voting. An investigation by the CCSO Batman’s voting history revealed that she, a non-U.S. citizen, had registered to vote in Clark County in May 2000. The investigation was conducted by Det. Adam Beck and completed on Feb. 19, 2020. It revealed that over the years, Batman participated in 29 elections, including five instances since November 2015, despite not meeting the legal citizenship requirements for voting in U.S. elections. This case, highlighting a significant breach of election law, constituted a violation of RCW 29A.84.660, which deals with Unqualified Persons Voting, a Class C Felony in Washington state. Each unauthorized vote by Batman represented a distinct felony offense under this statute.

The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is pursuing two felony charges against Clark County resident and former legislative candidate John Ley. Ley was charged with allegedly registering to vote and as a candidate in an incorrect voter district. Ley was a Republican candidate for Washington state’s 18th Legislative District state representative Position No. 2 in 2022. Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik is a Democrat.

At the time of this report, Golik had not responded to a request for comment. This story will be updated if he responds.

POLL: Is enough done to deter voter fraud in Clark County?*
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