Camano woman guilty of voter fraud, sentenced to food bank
July 15, 2009 · Updated 8:36 AM
A woman who signed her name to her son's ballot and claimed it as her own has served time in a food bank after pleading guilty July 13 to a voting illegally.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks said the formal charge is "unqualified person voting."
Susan Risehhoover, 43, of Camano Island, mailed in a ballot in last November’s presidential election when she was not a registered voter, according to a news release from Bansk' office. She filled out her registered-voter son’s ballot, falsely signed the voter’s affidavit using his name and then sent it to
the Island County Auditor’s Office to be counted.
The auditor’s staff compared the signature with the voter’s registration signature and noted that they did not match. Banks said the auditor’s staff tried to contact Risenhoover’s son, to verify the signature, and correct his voter registration. The signature question was still unresolved when
the Island County Canvassing Board prepared to certify the election, so it rejected the ballot and it was not counted. The auditor then referred the matter to the prosecutor, who, after a preliminary investigation, forwarded it to Sheriff Mark Brown for a complete investigation.
"Risenhoover admitted to police that she had filled out her son’s ballot and forged his signature on the ballot envelope affidavit," Banks said in the news release. "Her son had moved to Texas in June, 2008, and Ms.
Risenhoover saw using his ballot as an opportunity for her to vote even though she was not a registered voter."
Risenhoover had no prior criminal record and was given a five day jail
sentence. Banks noted that the maximum sentence that can be imposed for that class of crime is five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. Because she cares for her disabled daughter, Risenhoover’s five
day jail sentence was converted to 40 hours of community service, which she completed at the Stanwood-Camano Food Bank. Additionally, she is required to pay $1,217 in court costs and fees.
As a convicted felon, she will be ineligible to register to vote until her rights are restored by a judge.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Colleen Kenimond prosecuted the case.
“This is a good reminder to people that regardless of the ballots that come to their house in the mail, they can only lawfully complete their own ballot and sign their own name," Kenimond said. "Violations are felonies and will be prosecuted."
Two years ago, an Oak Harbor woman, 43, pleaded guilty to a similar charge after she filled out her daughter's absentee ballot and signed her daughter's name.