MADISON — Walter Jankowski II, a severely cognitively impaired senior, is the latest victim of elderly voter abuse, according to a new complaint filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The Waunakee nursing home resident has had a brain impairment since the 1970s and was ruled legally unfit to vote by a court, according to the complaint filed by attorneys for the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm. Yet, Jankowski somehow cast a vote in the 2020 presidential election, in which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly defeated Republican President Donald Trump to win Wisconsin and the White House.
More so, the complaint alleges, Jankowski was listed as registered to vote and still active in the state voter database. He received an absentee ballot for this week’s spring election.
“The guardianship order declares that Walter Jankowski II lacks the capacity to exercise the right to register to vote or to vote in an election and requires these public officials to prohibit him from doing so,” Erick Kaardal, special counsel for the Thomas More Society. “Yet, according to Wisvote, the state’s voting records database, Walter Jankowski II voted in the November 2020 election.”
The complaint names Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe, Village of Waunakee Clerk Karla Endres, and Dane County Circuit Court Clerk Carlo Esqueda, as violating the Dane County Circuit Court Order by allowing a ward under a “do not vote” guardianship order to register and vote in the November 3. 2020 election, in this week’s election and in future elections.
The Jankowski situation is not an isolated incident, according to the Wisconsin Voter Alliance’s election integrity investigation. The 2020 election produced a slew of allegations of irregularities occurring in Wisconsin nursing homes. There are more than 91,000 nursing home residents in the state. As many as 50 percent of these institutional residents suffer from varying degrees of dementia, meaning that a significant number of nursing home and assisted living residents are vulnerable to voter manipulation and resulting voter fraud.
Last week, the Thomas More Society filed a similar complaint. Sandra Klitzke, who has suffered from cognitive decline for many years, was legally restricted from registering to vote or from voting in any election by order of the Outagamie County Circuit Court in February 2020, yet Klitzke is recorded in Wisvote, as having voted in both the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election and the April 6, 2021 spring election in Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin law requires that when a person is judged by a court to be mentally incapable, he or she no longer may vote,” Kaardal said. “But unlike our client here, many family members who act under power of attorney for a loved one in a nursing home may be unaware that a person in a memory care unit is still legally entitled to vote until a court judgment is entered ending that right.”
Special Counsel Michael Gableman’s report last month on election law violations included alleged abuses of nursing home residents. Gableman’s presentation featured video interviews with cognitively impaired seniors in continuing care centers across Wisconsin, residents who were manipulated or forced into voting despite being ruled mentally incapacitated, according to reports.
The special counsel’s findings support an investigation last year by the Racine County Sheriff’s Department alleging the Elections Commission “shattered” state election law. WEC during the pandemic barred special voting deputies from Wisconsin’s nursing homes and assisted care facilities. SVDs are specially trained to help eligible citizens vote. Instead, the sheriff’s department investigation, like Gableman’s probe, found untrained nursing home staff were illegally assisting residents in filling out their ballots. In eight cases, severely cognitively impaired residents were allowed to vote, even though courts had declared them ineligible to do so.
The Sheriff’s Department recommended criminal charges against WEC commissioners, but the Racine County District Attorney said she lacked jurisdiction because WEC is based in Madison.