Dead man votes, wife charged with felony
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
August 12, 2011 · Updated 2:22 PM
The Island County Prosecutor’s Office charged a 64-year-old Camano Island woman with a felony for signing her dead husband’s name to a ballot in the 2010 general election, court documents indicate.
Mary Jean Cumero is facing a single count of unqualified person voting, a charge that carries a standard sentence of up to a year in jail.
Detective Mark Plumberg with the Island County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case last November after the prosecutor’s office emailed him about the apparent fraud.
Documents showed that “a deceased man named William Cumero had cast a ballot in the November 2010 election,” Plumberg wrote. Cumero died on Sept. 12, but ballots weren’t mailed out until Oct. 12.
Plumberg interviewed Mary Jean Cumero, who admitted signing her husband’s name to the ballot and mailing it in, the report states. She said she spoke to her husband in depth about the election prior to his death and she knew how he wanted to vote.
In addition, Cumero said it had been a trying time emotionally since her ex-husband, the father of her children, had also died.
While it may not be a high-priority case, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said he wasn’t reluctant about filing charges against Cumero.
“’One person, one vote’” is a bedrock principle of our representative republic,” he said, adding that the state’s vote-by-mail system makes it vulnerable to fraud.
“Even though the county’s trained election workers examine every signature before accepting a ballot, prosecution of violators is also necessary to punish them and to discourage others from casting unlawful ballots,” Ohme said. “In Island County we have had elections decided by only a handful of votes after recounts. We know that even one or two bogus ballots can change the result of an election.”
The court documents don’t indicate which candidates Cumero voted for in her husband’s name.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.