by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 3, 2022) — On October 26, the non-profit organization Look Ahead America (LAA), which advocates for election integrity and seeks to engage the public in the civic process, published a press release and report indicating that without providing a reason, the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC), legislatively authorized in 2016 to manage voter registration, vote tabulation and statistics for the state, rejected nine out of 11 complaints identifying voting anomalies in recent elections.
The Commission consists of three Democrats and three Republicans. “Two of the Democrats and two of the Republicans are selected by their respective Legislative leadership,” the website explains. “One Democrat and one Republican must be former municipal or county clerks and are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.”
A year ago, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling held a press conference in which he announced that violations of Wisconsin law took place during the 2020 election instigated by the WEC, which issued a directive stating that Special Voting Deputies (SVDs), designated by the legislature to assist with and collect ballots from nursing-home residents, were not to be dispatched because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The directive reads, in part:
The Commission directed that local election officials shall instead mail an absentee ballot to those registered voters who reside in care facilities that are typically served by SVDs if they request an absentee ballot or have an active request on file. Therefore, if you have voters who reside in an SVD facility with an active request on file, you should prepare to mail them a ballot for the August 11 election. Clerks should not attempt to send SVDs into care facilities and should instead fulfill these absentee requests by mail. In regard to the prohibition on sending SVDs to care facilities, the Commission’s motion and guidance is the same for the remaining 2020 elections as it was for the April 7, 2020 election.
Consequently, Schmaling’s investigation found, nursing-home “employees” were told they could assist residents in completing ballots, and records at MyVoteWisconsin showed that some 2020 ballots were cast in the names of nursing-home residents deemed incompetent and barred from voting by court order.
On November 3 last year, Schmaling referred five of the six WEC members to Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson for criminal investigation for allegedly engaging in “election fraud” and “misconduct in public office.”
In a newer development, according to the Racine County Eye on February 15:
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling has asked the district attorneys in the home counties of five members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to prosecute the members for felony misconduct in office.
Schmaling also renewed his call to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to open a statewide investigation into votes cast by residents confined to care centers in the 2020 general election.
The sheriff’s actions came after Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson wrote him a letter last Thursday (Feb. 10) stating that she lacked jurisdiction to issue charges against the WEC members because none of them reside in Racine County.
However, Hanson wrote that she believed the five elections commissioners should be prosecuted because they suspended a requirement that local election clerks send Special Voting Deputies to assisted care facilities before mailing absentee ballots to facility residents.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Office announced last Friday that it had reached out to the district attorneys where the commissioners reside and will be forwarding requests for criminal prosecution.
According to Schmaling’s remarks at MyPillow Mike Lindell’s “The Moment of Truth Summit” in August, it appears no prosecutions will ensue against the accused WEC members. (Schmaling is second from left.)
Official complaints were filed in five Wisconsin counties, the LAA report states: Dane, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Sheboygan, after volunteers examined materials including but not limited to the state voter-roll list, which LAA purchased through a vendor; the USPS’s National Change of Address (NCOA) list; VoteRef.com; court, election-agency and property records; and a Wisconsin statute which requires each voter applicant to provide “Proof of Residence” as opposed to a post-office box or other non-residential location.
Wisconsin, Texas and Georgia, where LAA volunteers found potential double-voting and the provision of a non-residential address for voter registration, are members of ERIC, a “corporation” organized in 2012 “with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens.”
In July, The Post & Email reported on LAA’s work in Wisconsin wherein the WEC reportedly “admitted to being aware that some voters used a post office box as a residential address but said it could not take action unless it received a ‘formal complaint’ from a member of the public.”
After identifying apparent anomalies based on the source materials, as described to us previously, LAA Director of Research Ian Camacho contacted the relevant municipal election clerks by email. If action was not taken at that level, he told us in a recent interview, formal complaints were filed with the WEC by LAA volunteers who are also Wisconsin registered voters.
When the WEC responded to the complaints by rejecting them, in its letter it warning that a $500 fine could be levied if the complaint were determined “by a preponderance of the evidence” to be “frivolous.”
As of July, several complaints LAA filed with Georgia officials were reported to be under investigation. On August 25, LAA published a press release and accompanying report, the former of which states, in part:
In this report, we received responses from the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) which confirmed our double voter find in Arizona and Wisconsin as was also acknowledged by the municipal clerks and Marathon County District Attorney in Wisconsin. We provide the receipts. As mentioned in our Arizona report, the Yuma County Sheriff announced an investigation into this and 15 other cases (which Dinesh D’Souza and True the Vote tried taking credit for but were shown to be false).
“District Attorneys in North Carolina and Wisconsin are now aware of double voters and currently investigating these cases, which apparently clerks had not sent their way,” the report states on page 2, and “The Georgia Secretary of State’s Investigations Unit has kept us posted on the progress on the cases of P.O. Box voters and felons who registered in Georgia on parole from Florida. We hope to get responses and updates on these soon.”
As LAA previously reported in its research into voting practices in Wisconsin and other states, some municipal election clerks were open to considering LAA’s evidence of double-voting, voting after having submitted a non-residential address to register which was not flagged by the Department of Transportation/DMV (DOT), or the need to purge the name of a voter who had definitively moved out of state.
In one case, Camacho pointed out and the October report shows, an individual not only voted in Wisconsin by absentee ballot, but had also moved to Georgia, where he or she opened a business and cast a vote in the same election.
In one municipality, Camacho told us, the clerk was “skeptical” of LAA’s proffered evidence of voting irregularities but upon conducting her own research, determined there was validity to the claim and that the person’s name should, in fact, be removed from the voter rolls.
The summary of last week’s report begins:
In July 2021, Look Ahead America (LAA) published The Wisconsin Report.1 In that report, LAA determined that the 2020 General Election outcome in Wisconsin was unknowable due to questionable and illegally registered voters who cast ballots. The number of suspect ballots exceeded the margin of victory. After that report, Director of Research Ian Camacho submitted the Research Group’s findings to all the related municipal clerks giving them the opportunity to clean up their voter rolls and even consider investigations in a few particularly egregious cases.2 3 4 Some of the clerks were quite cooperative and removed ineligible voters and, in some cases, even referred the voters for criminal investigations. Unfortunately, far more failed to respond, obstructed the process, or lied in their responses. The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) had also sent out a notification to all 1,850 municipal clerks, stating “You have discretion to determine whether the information provided in support of the claim is reliable and whether you need to take any steps in response” after implying that the group’s work was not reliable or was partisan (despite no evidence to support either claim).5
Pages 4-18 of the report consist of a complaint filed in Dane County containing evidence that the voter in question registered to vote using a non-residential address more than once.
On page 20, a complaint alleges evidence of a “double voter” from Dane County who owns a residence in Florida and voted in both states in 2018 and 2020. In 2020, the complaint states on page 24, the individual voted by absentee ballot in Wisconsin and “in person” in Florida.
On page 19, the WEC’s September 25 acknowledgement of LAA’s complaint on the double voter states that “a notice letter will be sent to the Respondent on Monday. The Respondent will then have 15 days to provide a response. After receiving all filings, the Commissioners will discuss the complaint in a closed session meeting. You will receive a notice after the Commission makes a decision regarding your complaint.”
However, a follow-up letter dated October 14, 2020 from the WEC (p. 35) to the complainant stated that his/her complaint against the suspected double-voter “was dismissed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission at its October 10, 2022 meeting” for lack of “reasonable suspicion.”
“You should be aware,” the letter continues, “that the Commission takes allegations of voter fraud very seriously and has the authority under Wis. Stat….to ‘order the complainant to forfeit not more than the greater of $500 or the expense incurred by the commission in investigation [sic] the complaint’ should it find by a preponderance of the evidence that a complaint is frivolous. Please consider this before initiating additional complaints.”
Regarding the WEC, Camacho told us he views the “threat” in the WEC’s responses as “voter intimidation.” “We flagged Democrats; we flagged Independents, and the double voter we found was a registered Republican. We looked at the property records, and the person clearly seemed ineligible unless either the records are wrong on the government’s side or there’s some exception we don’t know about,” he said. “We followed the law to a ‘T.’ It’s not just the rejection that was the issue but the lack of explanation given and the insinuating it’s frivolous and the underlying threat which added insult to injury.”
“There is voter intimidation from people who are trying to stop other people from voting,” he continued, “but that’s not what we’re doing. You can see the documentation there. It’s not so much the rejection, but the fact they’re claiming it’s frivolous.”
Camacho added that he can “understand where the voter frustration comes from.” “On the one hand, there are a lot of bogus claims that probably make the clerks jaded,” he said, “and in fairness to them, I get that. But on the other hand, when you have legitimate evidence, you can’t just throw it out.”
Camacho said he favors the abolition of the WEC in light of the fact that Wisconsin legislators “on both sides of the aisle” have themselves suggested it. “They’re only a recent organization since 2016,” Camacho observed. “If legislators want reasons as to why the WEC should be abolished, they can use LAA’s work, and I’d be happy to testify.”
Prior to publication, The Post & Email contacted the WEC for comment on its letters to LAA volunteers rejecting their complaints but did not receive a response by press time.
Update, 2:34 p.m. EDT, Nov. 4, 2022: An additional volunteer complaint sent to the WEC on Thursday received the following response on Friday:
The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) has received your complaint against respondent XXXXXXXX. The WEC has sent the complaint to the respondent to provide him the opportunity to respond as outlined under Wis. Stat. § 5.05(2m)(c)2.a. Complaints made under this provision are confidential. Although you may wish to inquire about the status of your complaint, we will not be able to provide you with any additional details. The Commission reviews complaints in the order that they are received, and WEC staff will inform you once the Commission reviews your complaint.
Wisconsin Elections Commission
201 West Washington Avenue
PO Box 7984
Madison, WI 53707-7984