• Sun. Aug 7th, 2022

Milwaukee District Attorney Won’t Indict Wisconsin Election Commission Members | local government

ByChad J. Johnson

Mar 8, 2022



The Milwaukee County district attorney will not press charges against two Democratic members of Wisconsin’s bipartisan Elections Commission, saying Monday there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they had committed crimes.

District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, rejected calls from the Republican Racine County Sheriff to prosecute five commission members — three Democrats and two Republicans — who voted not to send campaign deputies to nursing homes in 2020 to help residents vote.

The action was cited by Republican critics of the way the 2020 election went as opening the door to potential voter fraud at nursing homes. To date, only 24 people have been charged with voter fraud statewide, a number comparable to previous elections and nowhere near enough to affect President Joe Biden’s victory by nearly 21,000 votes over Donald Trump. .

The Racine County Republican prosecutor also declined in February to press charges against the members of the Elections Commission, saying she lacked jurisdiction because none of them lived in her county. This led to the sheriff asking for charges to be laid in the counties where they live.

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Milwaukee County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Westphal wrote to Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Monday to say no charges would be brought against Commissioners Ann Jacobs or Mark Thomsen. Jacobs is the chairman of the commission.

In an analysis, the district attorney’s office noted that the Elections Commission is responsible for administering Wisconsin’s election laws and that decisions it made regarding nursing home election aides were not inconsistent with those laws. functions.

“There is no evidence to support the belief that the advice was provided for any reason other than to ensure that voters were able to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the analysis concluded. district attorney.

State law requires local election clerks to send so-called special voting deputies to nursing homes to give residents the opportunity to vote. After trying to make two visits, MPs can mail ballots to residents instead.

But at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Wisconsin Elections Commission made its decision not to send deputies, the state was under a safer-at-home order and nursing homes severely limited the number of people who can enter their facilities, often not. even allowing immediate family members to enter.

The March 2020 Election Commission voted unanimously that election workers could not be sent to nursing homes. The committee voted 5-1 in two follow-up votes extending the order until the November 2020 election before overturning it in March 2021. Instead of sending voting MPs, the committee ordered clerks to send absentee ballots to nursing home residents who requested them. .

The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Office determined that the commission broke the law by not sending the voting aides.

“Clearly there was no crime,” Jacobs said in response to the district attorney’s decision. “Instead, the commission acted to protect the voting rights of all Wisconsin citizens during an unprecedented pandemic.”

Thomsen did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice hired by Republicans to investigate the election, also raised concerns about voting in nursing homes in his report submitted last week.

Gableman voted for Trump. Schmaling, the sheriff who called the charges, supported Trump in 2020.

Biden’s victory withstood recounts, multiple lawsuits, a nonpartisan audit and other criticism.