Sunday, December 4th, 2022
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MADISON — Voting by cognitively impaired residents declared ineligible to cast ballots may have been more widespread than originally suspected, according to a new report.

Meanwhile, a voter integrity activist says he was able to file for absentee ballots using the names of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Racine Mayor Cory Mason, a Democrat, raising more questions about the security of Wisconsin’s elections.

The investigation by the Thomas More Society and the Wisconsin Voter Alliance reveals a “massive underreporting” of individuals under ’no vote’ guardianship orders by My Vote Wisconsin, the state’s voter database.

“The investigation has uncovered the likelihood that more than 95 percent of Wisconsin individuals (wards) under court ordered “no vote” guardianships are not recorded as such, and therefore may have illegally voted – or had votes cast in their names,” according to a statement from Thomas More Society attorneys.

State law requires circuit court clerks to send all “no vote” guardianship orders to “election officials or agency’” for the purpose of preventing severely cognitively impaired individuals from registering to vote and from voting. According to the investigators, it appears court personnel are doing their job by mailing a Notice of Ineligibility for each ward to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. But WEC apparently is not inputting the data into the Wisvote database it maintains.

“Are these wards with no voting rights registered, active voters? Are they sent absentee ballots automatically as ‘indefinitely confined’? And are they currently voting? Those are the big questions that need to be answered before the August 2022 primary,” said Erick Kaardal, special counsel for the Thomas More Society.

“Who knows if some of those elections could be close? If thousands and thousands of ineligible wards are voting, we won’t know who actually and legally won any close elections in August.”

There have been several complaints alleging cognitively impaired residents with ‘no vote’ court orders being recorded as having voted in the 2020 presidential election.

Paul Archambault claims his mother was ruled legally incompetent in 2015 by the Waukesha County Court. The elderly woman was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder. She is an involuntary plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against WEC.

Archambault was named his mother’s legal guardian. Her rights to register to vote or to vote in an election were revoked in full in the Guardianship Order, and “may not be exercised by any person,”  the lawsuit states. Archambault was unaware of any attempts to assist his mother vote until December, a month after the November 2020 presidential election. He checked the My Vote Wisconsin website and discovered his mother had “cast ballots in the August 11, 2020, Partisan Primary and the November 2020 General Election.”

Racine County Sheriff’s Department investigators say they found eight cases in which severely cognitively impaired residents at a Racine County nursing home were manipulated or made to vote in the 2020 presidential election. The sheriff has recommended felony charges of misconduct and election fraud against WEC officials.

In one case a resident in a state of steep mental decline at the time was assisted by a nursing home staff member in casting an absentee ballot. The family said the resident had not asked for an absentee ballot. The families of the other seven residents told investigators their loved ones didn’t have the cognitive ability to vote or request a ballot. Many hadn’t voted since 2012.

This week, Thomas More Society attorneys filed petitions for a writ of mandamus in the 13 counties (Brown, Crawford, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Langlade, Marquette, Ozaukee, Polk, Taylor, Vernon, Vila, and Walworth Counties) to obtain the respective counties’ guardianship information.

On a related election integrity issue … Harry Wait from the group Honest, Open and Transparent (H.O.T) Government says he successfully requested absentee ballots for Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason to test how easy it is to illegally obtain a ballot. Wait did so, he said, with nothing but a name and birthdate.

Wait, who lives in Racine County, tells Empower Wisconsin he turned himself into the Racine County Sheriff’s Department. He says he “violated the law … in the interest of serving the republic.”

“The small penalty I have to pay is worth getting this information out to the public,” he said.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Department is now calling for the immediate suspension of the absentee ballot request tool on the state’s election site.

“With only a person’s name and date of birth, anyone can request another person’s ballot and have that ballot sent to any address entered. No photo identification is needed, and the requester can make a declaration of being indefinitely confined – thus, for the current and future elections, the requestor will be sent someone else’s ballot at the different address entered,” the sheriff’s department states.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said he’s “disheartened.” He said apparent vulnerabilities in MyVote Wisconsin makes the system “ripe for fraud.”

WEC issued a statement flatly denying any problems.

“There is no indication of any vulnerability with the MyVote application. The idea that absentee ballot requests made online, via MyVote, are more susceptible to fraud is false,” the agency said.

Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said requesting or attempting to vote an absentee ballot in the name of another person has long been and continues to be a crime. Wolfe is clearly upset by the allegations.

“Claiming that by committing a crime by submitting false information to obtain an absentee ballot somehow reveals a vulnerability of our system is inaccurate and irresponsible,” she said. “Intentionally using someone else’s identity to subvert the system does not demonstrate a flaw with MyVote, but rather a flaw with that person’s conduct.”

WEC says the web application requires a person to provide the same information he or she would provide if the person made the ballot request through traditional mail or email.

“MyVote does not make it any easier to commit voter fraud than requesting a ballot through other methods,” the agency insists.

Wait and the sheriff’s office disagree.

“It’s maddening,” the conservative activist said.

Racine sued over voting van

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