In 2006, Jane Balogh, a Seattle grandmother, felt that the voting system in Washington was flawed. A 2005 state voter registration statute was particularly ill conceived, she decided, making voter fraud easy. Balogh was worried about her state’s voting security and decided to do something to draw attention to the apparent loophole.
So she registered her dog, Duncan, as a voter.
The Seattle Times reports that Ms. Balogh, a former Army veteran now faces a misdemeanor charge for making a false statement to a public official, which she admits that she’d done when she checked a box on the absentee ballot form declaring her dog as a legal voter that meets all necessary requirements. If she pleads not guilty to the charges, she will probably face a felony charge of providing false information on a voter-registration application.
Dan Satterburg, the acting prosecuting attorney in the case, said that it would be unwise for the state to let Balogh off the hook without punishment. “[We] can’t simply look the other way,” he said, “They say you should let sleeping dogs lie, but you can’t let voting dogs vote.”
Balogh will not maintain her innocence and will plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge. “I’m not going to claim to be innocent when I know I’m guilty,” she said.
The misdemeanor charge will likely include a $250 fine and a recommendation of 10 hours of community service with the further stipulation that Ms. Balogh does not commit any other crimes for a year.
Duncan, an Australian shepherd-terrier mix, submitted ballots in the September and November 2006 and May 2007 elections, with “VOID” written on each ballot. Balogh registered her phone bill in her dogs name and used the bill as evidence of identification when applying for an absentee ballot; the dog’s absentee ballot included a picture of a paw print, which was ultimately how the unusual voter registration was noticed by public officials. The dog was registered for seven months before the November election.
The point, Balogh said, wasn’t to get someone elected by casting false votes, but rather to draw attention to flaws in the voting system that allow non-citizens to vote and make voting corruption easier.
“I wasn’t trying to do anything fraudulent,” Balogh told the Seattle Times. “I was trying to prove that our system is flawed. So I got myself in trouble.”
Ms. Balogh lives with four dogs other than Duncan and four cats.
Keith Ervin, “Woman registers her dog to vote, prosecutors growl.” Seattle Times, URL: (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003758181_votingdog22m.html)