Mason County auditor rejects ‘election denier’ label
MASON COUNTY, Wash — The newly elected auditor of Mason County – who some call “election deniers” – is pushing for changes in his election office after campaigning for months with claims that elections are not transparent or unreliable.
“(I want) to give back elections and other elements that we can to the people of Mason County. It’s my passion,” Steve Duenkel said in his first interview with KING 5.
Duenkel is implementing an election system in which volunteer citizens oversee the entire voting process. Not only are they observing processes at the Mason County Elections Office, but Duenkel is also working to help volunteers reach out to the maker of Everett that prints ballots and the U.S. Postal Service where ballots are distributed. type and send by post.
“What I am concerned about is at the points where we lose what I call the chain of custody of the ballots,” says Duenkel.
Duenkel is also analyzing the county’s vote counting machine, “just to make sure there aren’t any changes to the encryption,” the signature matching process used to verify voter IDs, and adding cameras that will monitor 10 ballot boxes throughout the county.
Duenkel, a 61-year-old retired Boeing executive, is the Republican first-time candidate who narrowly defeated Democrat Paddy McGuire, with two decades of electoral experience, in November. .
Duenkel’s reforms address many of the “stolen elections” claims that have circulated among Republicans since Donald Trump lost the 2020 election.
Duenkel rejects the label of “voting denier”. “It’s a term intended to offend or demean,” he said. However, he did not say whether he believes Trump won the popular vote.
“I’m focusing on what’s happening in Mason County,” Duenkel said.
Duenkel’s office will also fully cooperate with the “Voter Research Project (VRP),” a grassroots effort that sends citizens door-to-door to detect improperly registered voters. Supporters say it’s an attempt to clean up voter lists and try to uncover irregularities that could affect elections.
However, a KING 5 Inquiry last September revealed that the VRP’s findings during the 2021 and 2022 vote counting were mostly incorrect or were approved by Mason County Elections officials. known. The group claims to have discovered 239 “voter anomalies”.
For example, a news group determined that VRP campaigners had gone to the wrong address when they claimed in the report that the two vacant lots listed were residences where six registered voters lived. .
Although Duenkel did not respond to KING 5’s interview requests in September, he did recently respond to questions about inaccuracies in the report.
“They are not trained investigators. They are just concerned citizens,” Duenkel said, explaining that the volunteers simply went where the GPS told them to go and didn’t investigate further.
KING 5 found no examples of voter fraud after following the VRP’s report.
“Well, that’s not the purpose of the report. And, like that, you’re right, the report doesn’t indicate specific instances of fraud. The report raises a number of questions to follow,” Duenkel said.
However, it appears that Duenkel’s “electoral integrity” reforms are intended to correct a problem for which no evidence even exists in Mason County.
“Just because we haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean there’s no possibility of problems,” Duenkel said.
The new auditor is expected to apply some new security measures at the next election.
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https://www.king5.com/article/news/investigations/mason-county-auditor-rejects-election-denier-pledges-changes/281-ff0eedd9-43f0-4e01-8932-aecb583d7d55 Mason County auditor rejects ‘election denier’ label