Empower Wisconsin | May 21, 2020
By M.D. Kittle and Joshua Waldoch
MADISON — More than two-dozen voters may have illegally cast ballots in Illinois and Wisconsin in the 2018 general election, according to Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) records obtained by Empower Wisconsin through an open records request.
In all, the Election Commission referred 43 cases of double voting to district attorneys in 19 counties. But Illinois represented the highest number of potential “crossing voting,” at 26 incidents, according to the records.
State statute prohibits anyone from intentionally voting “more than once in the same election.” Doing so is a Class I Felony, punishable by 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Commission staff tracked the possible double voters by data matching through the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).
“If the voting information and identifying information of an individual is confirmed, the comparison data is potentially evidence of criminal activity,” the commission records brief notes.
It’s not clear how many of these cases will turn into charges. Empower Wisconsin sought the names of the suspects involved in the 43 cases of alleged voter fraud, as well as the county district attorney offices to which the cases were referred.
The commission provided a list of the latter, but denied Empower Wisconsin’s request seeking the names of suspects. Because the agency has only referred potential cases to district attorneys for further investigation, it asserts that it does not have to release the list under state statute.
Empower Wisconsin reached out to the district attorneys for comment. Most offices — including DAs in Dane, Milwaukee, Rock, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Brown, Racine, Wood, Sawyer, Green Lake, Jefferson, Winnebago, Green, Oneida and Adams — either would not comment or did not return calls.
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski told Empower Wisconsin that an assistant DA reviewed the one case referred to his office. A prosecutor is now investigating it. He said it was a “complicated case,” but hopes to have a decision on whether to charge in two or three weeks. That case involves an apparent absentee vote in Wisconsin, and an early vote in Illinois, according to records.
An official with the Eau Claire DA’s office said an assistant DA is reviewing the two complaints referred. The referrals involve a voter who potentially voted at the polls in Wisconsin, and by mail in Colorado. Another voter appears to have voted absentee in Wisconsin, and by early vote in Nevada.
The most cases of apparent double voting occurred in Dane County. ERIC matched eight possible incidents in the liberal county, six voting in Illinois and Wisconsin, the other casting ballots in Wisconsin and Washington State.
Walworth County had seven potential incidents, according to commission records. WEC’s review found five potential cases of double voting in Kenosha county, each case involving a voter who appears to have voted in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Milwaukee had four cases, three involving voters in Illinois, and one in New Mexico.
There were four Iowa-Wisconsin double-voting incidents, six involving Wisconsin-Washington, and six cases of voters casting ballots in Colorado and Wisconsin.
WEC finally turned over the records request after two months. Wisconsin open records expert Bill Lueders recently told Empower Wisconsin that two months is too long.
“They should have provided these records by now or at least given you a very good reason why it’s taking so long,” Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council said.
Commission spokesman Reid Magney apologized for the delay, noting that the “agency has been occupied with administration of the Spring Election and the special election in the 7th Congressional District, including responding to the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.”