Wisconsin sheriff: Election statutes were ‘not just broken but shattered’

by WorldTribune Staff, October 28, 2021

An investigation by the Racine County, Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office found that nursing home residents whose families said they did not have the cognitive capacity to vote nevertheless had ballots cast in their name in the 2020 election.

“Election statute was in fact not just broken, but shattered by members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC),” Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said at a Nov. 28 news conference.

Sheriff Christopher Schmaling

Though the Racine County investigation only related to one nursing home, Schmaling said he expects Thursday’s announcement will lead to others across the state coming forward.

Schmaling called on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to launch an immediate investigation.

The sheriff said his office initiated the investigation after receiving a complaint from a relative of a nursing home resident who died in October who was suffering severe cognitive difficulties – and yet still voted via absentee ballot in the 2020 election. The person lived at the Ridgewood Care Facility.

Racine County Sgt. Michael Luell investigated the issue and found the Ridgewood Care Facility had an unusual surge in voting activity in 2020. Luell reported eight of 42 families of residents at Ridgewood Care Facility said their loved ones didn’t have the cognitive ability to vote and yet did.

Schmaling detailed how the investigation found that Wisconsin elections officials had sent out instructions on how employees at nursing homes could help residents fill out a ballot, although such action is prohibited by state law. “That is the completion of the crime,” Schmaling said.

Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Paul Farrow said in a statement: “Anyone who cares at all about election integrity owes the Racine County Sheriff’s Department a debt of gratitude for their work today. It is horrific that WEC’s choice to violate state laws may have led to bad actors taking advantage of vulnerable citizens in nursing homes. It’s time for Democrats, the Department of Justice, and the mainstream media to take election integrity concerns seriously.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu on Monday announced that the state Senate is launching its own investigation into the 2020 election.

“The audit released on [Friday] paints a grim picture of the Wisconsin Election Commission and their careless administration of election law in Wisconsin,” LeMahieu said in a statement. “The audit shows numerous failures within WEC which undermined the free, fair, and transparent elections Wisconsinites deserve.”

That audit found numerous problems with voter roll accuracy, absentee voting, the use of drop boxes, and raised questions about the role of outside groups like the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life.

State Sen. Howard Marklein said his Joint Audit Committee will hold hearings and lead an investigation.

“I am currently reviewing the audit report which made 30 recommendations, including 18 items that may involve legislation,” Marklein explained. “We have taken action on a number of these items in legislation that has already been vetoed by Governor Tony Evers, but we will consider our options.”

LeMahieu said one of the options may be ending the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“We will assess the full impact of WEC’s deficiencies and determine the best course of action for the future of election administration given the now documented failures of the current administration and staff,” LeMahieu said in a statement.

State Rep. Janel Brandtjen is leading a separate investigation being conducted by the state legislature’s elections committee.

Brandtjen on Monday slammed the WEC, and said that faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process has been “shattered.”

“The Wisconsin Election Commission failed to properly manage voter registration, train clerks, or comply with security issues on electronic voting equipment,” Brandtjen said. “To make matters worse, 48,554 indefinitely confined individuals who had not previously voted with an ID or did not have a photo ID on file, voted on Election Day. The citizens of Wisconsin deserve fair, honest and transparent elections.”

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