Auditor prepares to verify recall petition signatures

KENNEWICK, Wash. – On Wednesday, Benton County employees with the auditor’s office will work to verify over 16,000 signatures that were collected as a part of the Recall Sheriff Hatcher campaign. Petitioners with the group had six months to collect signatures and Auditor Brenda Chilton said they turned them in well in advance of the deadline.

At least 13,937 signatures will need to be verified for the recall to proceed.

“Once we identify voter registration record for that individual, we’re able to bring up their signature that we have on record for them; we compare that signature against the signature that’s on the petition,” Auditor Brenda Chilton explained they use special software to match signatures.

The petition document is 822 pages long and could take up to ten days for workers to complete.

“There are several hurdles that recall organizers have to overcome in order to get to the point where an actual recall election is held. Voters speak when they elect a person, and you should not easily be able to overturn that election,” Chilton said the process has been set forth by state legislature.

POLL: Do you support the effort to recall Sheriff Hatcher?

KAPP KVEW reached out to Sheriff Hatcher for his reaction to recall efforts making it this far.

He responded with a letter, detailing how the recall efforts of the group have been unethical and people who signed the petition were mislead.

We spoke with his lawyer back in November 2020, who said Hatcher hasn’t been able to defend himself in court.

However, the sheriff will accept the determination of Benton County citizens, whatever the turnout may be.

If Chilton and her office verify the needed amount of signatures, she’d call for an election.

“The election has to occur between 45 and 90 days after I certify the petition. If it falls outside that window to go on the primary ballot I would need to call a special election that would likely occur in the later part of June, early part of July,” she said.

It could be some time before the auditor knows if we’ll need a special election, but we do know, it would cost taxpayers a lot.

“I’m estimating that the cost of this election will be between 200 and 250-thousand dollars,” Chilton based her estimation off of the 2019 election, not 2020 since that was a presidential election.