Man accused of voting twice pleads not guilty to felony charges

By Erik Hidle, Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND Todd McGuire, charged with signing his wife's ballot in the Feb. 6, 2007 special election, has pleaded not guilty to class C felony charges alleging he signed his wife's name on her absentee ballot in February, 2007.

"Mr. McGuire is entering a plea of not guilty on both charges both on the first and alternative charges," McGuire's attorney Ben Critchlow told Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Craddock Verser during McGuire's arraignment on Friday.

McGuire, a prominent Jefferson County Democrat, was present but did not speak during the hearing.

He is charged with repeating a vote, or in the alternative, criminal impersonation in the first degree.

Both crimes are class C felonies which each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ann Lundwall, who is acting on behalf of the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, participated in the court hearing by phone.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Juelie Dalzell, who is a Democrat, said she sent the matter to Clallam County in 2007 to avoid politicizing the case and to avoid any appearance of political bias.

An omnibus hearing has been set for Aug. 29 and a pretrial hearing has been set for Oct. 10.

Trial has been tentatively set for Oct. 20 and 21.

17-month investigation
After an investigation which took almost 17 months, McGuire was charged on July 2.

The charges allege that McGuire signed his wife's signature on her absentee ballot in the February 2007 election.

The absentee ballots in the election state above the voter signature location that it is illegal to cast a ballot or sign an absentee envelope on behalf of another person.

While validating voter signatures for the special election in February, the Jefferson County Auditor's Office found an irregularity in the signature of McGuire's wife, Rebekah McGuire.

According to an interdepartmental request for legal opinion sent to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's office, the auditor's office found that the signature on the outside of Rebekah McGuire's absentee ballot did not match the signature kept in the county's voter registration files.

The auditor challenged the ballot and contacted Rebekah McGuire with the information.

The request from the auditor's office said that on Feb. 15, Rebekah McGuire replied to the auditor's office, telling them over the phone she was out of the country at the time of the election and had not voted.

She also told the office that her husband, Todd McGuire, was with her.

The office said that on Feb. 20, a note was dropped off at the office from Rebekah McGuire which again stated that she was out of the country and did not vote in the election.

The canvassing board rejected the ballot and contacted the prosecuting attorney with the information on Feb. 21.

The Port Townsend Police Department investigated, and on March 17, 2008, said that McGuire cast two separate votes in the election, both his and his wife's.

The probable cause statement from the police says the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory examined the signature in question, and found that the signature on Rebekah McGuire's ballot was the handwriting of Todd McGuire.

McGuire donations
According to the state Public Disclosure Commission, McGuire has made cash donations to the Jefferson County Democrats; State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim; County Commissioner Phil Johnson, D-Port Townsend; County Commissioner John Austin, D-Port Ludlow; County Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George; and County Clerk Ruth Gordon.

In 2004 he was listed as treasurer of the Committee to Elect David Sullivan County Commissioner on Sullivan's C1 candidate registration form.

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Reporter Erik Hidle can be reached at 360-385-2335 or erik.hidle@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 02. 2008 9:00PM
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