Racine County Sheriff to file charges against Wisconsin Election Commission members

The Wisconsin Election Commission issued what the Racine County Sheriff's Office alleges was an illegal directive regarding absentee ballots for those living in residential care facilities.
Wisconsin early voting

The Racine County Sheriff's Office announced that it will file criminal charges against five of the six members of the Wisconsin Election Commission.

Sheriff Schmaling recommended charges to Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson for Commissioners Margaret Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson, and Mark Thomsen. The charges for each commissioner include two felonies and three misdemeanors.

According to the sheriff department's Facebook post, the charges include misconduct in public office, election fraud, and other alleged crimes.

Schmaling's office has requested Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul investigate alleged illegal directives issued by the commission, particularly not to use the Special Voting Deputy process, which is when the clerk of each municipality brings "enough ballots to each residential care facility to vote" and "assist the voters with the voting process," according to a commission letter that the sheriff displayed in a PowerPoint attached to the Dropbox in the Facebook post.

The commission instead had absentee ballots sent to the resident by mail.

The sheriff highlighted the case of a woman named Judy and her mother, Shirley, who had been in a residential care facility called Ridgewood Care Facility. Judy discovered that her mother had voted absentee for the Nov. 3, 2020 election when she had died on Oct. 9.

Shirley had last voted in 2016, prior to being placed in the facility. Her daughter asked the executive director of the facility how her mother could vote when her eyesight was poor and she didn't pay attention to the news. The executive director said "the WEC gave facility staff the authority to help residents fill out their ballots."

According to the executive director, the staff would ask residents who they had previously voted for and followed party lines to help them choose. The executive director said she "hoped" the staff would be honest.

In all, of the 42 resident who voted, there were nine that their families believed they were incapable of voting and that the staff took advantage of them in their assistance.