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Originally published June 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 29, 2007 at 11:50 AM

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Dog still registered to vote, owner pleads not guilty

The Federal Way grandmother who registered her dog to vote pleaded not guilty Thursday to making false statements on a voter-registration...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Federal Way grandmother who registered her dog to vote pleaded not guilty Thursday to making false statements on a voter-registration form.

Jane Balogh, who says it's too easy for a voter to register illegally, sought to prove her point by registering one of her dogs, Duncan MacDonald, as a King County absentee voter.

She put her phone in Duncan's name, and that apparently sufficed. Although the Australian shepherd-terrier mix signed each ballot envelope with a picture of a paw print, he didn't vote. Balogh wrote "void" on each ballot.

The King County prosecutor's office charged Balogh, 66, with making false or misleading statements to a public servant, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Balogh last week said she planned to plead guilty. She changed her mind because election officials were using Duncan's canine outing as proof the system worked.

"She's just kind of annoyed because Duncan's still on the voting rolls," said Balogh's lawyer, Kristen Anderson. "Somebody is clearly not getting the message."

It's not that no one is paying attention, said Laura Lockard, acting election program manager for voter services. But there is "an arduous process" to have someone — even if that someone is a dog — taken off the voter rolls.

To successfully remove Duncan, Balogh will be presented with a letter challenging her dog's registration and calling her to a public hearing.

"They need to fix their system," Balogh argues. "And if they don't, I've wasted my time."

The elections system is designed to catch fraud in actual votes — not in the registration process, said Sherril Huff, director designee of the Records, Elections and Licensing Services division of King County Executive Services.

The signature on a registration form or ballot serves as an oath, declaring that the information is true and that the person in question is a qualified voter, she said.

"The bottom line is that [Balogh] took a number of calculated steps to be on the voter-registration files in a way that would not send up any red flags," Huff said. "What she proved is that if you falsify information, then yes, you may be able to get a ballot sent to you."

Balogh's pretrial hearing is scheduled for July 11.

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