For the past two decades, the City of Milwaukee has been home to multiple organized vote fraud schemes that turned out untold thousands of illegal votes for Democratic presidential candidates and may have even swung at least one extremely close election.
In the final days of the 2000 presidential campaign, longtime Democrat donor Connie Milstein traveled from her home in New York to Milwaukee while working as the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Major Supporters.
Her mission was to register as many voters as she could…any way she could.
On Saturday, November 6th—three days before Election Day—she and some employees went to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission to get homeless men to vote absentee.
If they did, she would give them packs of cigarettes.
WISN-TV interviewed Milstein, who admitted that "we've been pretty busy, going to the local shelters."
Patrick Vandenburgh, the executive director of one of those three shelters, told investigators that Milstein and six other Gore volunteers approached the men, who initially did not want to register.
They changed their minds when the Gore team held up a pack of cigarettes. Milstein’s team drove them to City Hall, where they picked up absentee ballots and voted.
The scandal became known as “Smokes for Votes” and was an obvious attempt at bribing voters, but Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann—a Democrat—was reluctant to prosecute such a high-ranking DNC official.
Even though the evidence was overwhelming that the Gore campaign was engaged in a vote fraud scheme, McCann brought no criminal charges and Democratic Attorney General Jim Doyle (who would be elected Governor two years later) refused to investigate any further.
The following May, Milstein agreed to pay a $5,000 civil forfeiture.
The Milwaukee Police Department, however, took notice of the organized Democratic effort to commit vote fraud and in the run-up to the 2004 election, Officer Michael Sandvick headed up a five-member Special Investigative Unit to find and crack down on illegal voting.
What they found was chilling: Members of Democrat John Kerry’s presidential campaign organized a massive effort to take advantage of Wisconsin’s same-day voter registration and fraudulently register thousands of fake voters.
In a 67-page report, Sandvick’s team outlined what he called an "illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of (the 2004) election in the state of Wisconsin."
They found that as many as “5,300 more votes were counted in Milwaukee than the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots.
“Absentee ballots were cast by people living elsewhere; ineligible felons not only voted but worked at the polls; transient college students cast improper votes; and homeless voters possibly voted more than once,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The report found that in 2004 a total of 1,305 ‘same day’ voters gave information that was declared ‘un-enterable’ or invalid by election officials.”
Because Wisconsin law provided that same-day registrants who didn’t have photo ID only had to have another person vouch for them, Kerry campaign workers had "other staff members who were registered voters vouch for them by corroborating their residency."
Untold thousands of voters were registered this way and untold thousands of illegal votes were cast in a state that Kerry won by just 12,000 votes.
Sandvick’s unit referred 16 members of the Kerry campaign for criminal prosecution in connection with this obvious fraud ring, but again McCann refused to prosecute any of them. Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager refused any further investigation.
Sandvick was livid, but vowed that his unit would be even more active in finding and stopping vote fraud in the 2008 election.
He never got the chance. Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had Democratic Milwaukee Police Chief Arthur Jones shut down Sandvick’s unit and barred police officers from being present at polling locations, as they had been for decades.
The reason? They would “intimidate” voters.
Sandvick resigned from the Police Department in disgust. He knew the real reason his unit was shut down was because it had discovered how Democrats had been stealing elections in Milwaukee for years.
"We know what to look for," he told the Wall Street Journal, "and that scares some people."
Without the Police Department keeping watch, vote fraud schemes multiplied in Milwaukee ahead of the 2008 election.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a group working on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, engaged in multiple efforts to register fake voters and have them cast ballots in the city.
Kevin Clancy, who worked for ACORN and also served as a Special Registration Deputy for the City of Milwaukee, submitted multiple voter registrations for the same people in an effort to create what are known as “phantom voters” whose registrations could be used to vote multiple times.
Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s Election Task Force discovered the scheme and charged Clancy with falsely procuring voter registration. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 months in jail.
An ACORN colleague, Maria Miles, who also worked as a Special Registration Deputy for the City of Milwaukee, was also arrested, charged and convicted. A judge sentenced her to a year in jail, but stayed that sentence and instead imposed fines and three years’ probation.
A total of four ACORN workers were convicted in the illegal voter registration scheme, and other Obama-affiliated organizations were committing similar frauds across the city.
Frank Walton, another Special Registration Deputy for the City of Milwaukee who also worked for the Community Voters Project (a group under the auspices of the Democrat-affiliated Fund for the Public Interest), was convicted and sentenced to 52 days in jail after investigators discovered that he was registering phantom voters on at least 70 different registration forms.
Of those 70 forms, only 16 percent contained accurate information of an existing voter.
Eventually, two other members of the Community Voters Project were convicted on vote fraud charges.
On Election Night 2012, as Obama sought re-election, a pro-Obama group organized to distribute food to voters who were waiting in line at Milwaukee Vincent High School in an effort to entice them to stay in line after the polls closed in an effort to bribe them to stay and vote.
Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board was called to intervene, but beyond telling the group to abandon its plans it refused to investigate any further.
More troublingly, untold numbers of felons may have been allowed to illegally vote in 2012 because Milwaukee election officials refused to check newly registered voters against a list of convicted felons from the Department of Corrections.
"I alerted officials at the Ziedler building [in Milwaukee] that they were not in compliance with state law," one election observer told the MacIver News Service. "They told me they never received a list from the GAB and appeared to make no effort to find one."
In 2016, potential vote fraud exploded across Wisconsin and especially in Milwaukee. Nearly a thousand suspected cases were referred to local district attorneys, but almost none were ever prosecuted.
"All together, 368,392 people registered to vote on election day in November 2016," The MacIver Institute reported. "When the state sent postcards to their addresses to verify their residency after the election, 10,461 came back as undeliverable. Local officials claim they were able to reconcile all but 3,871 of them. That means, officially, 3,871 voters in the 2016 election cannot be verified and potentially voted illegally. Unofficially, there could be as many as 10,461 cases of voter fraud from the 2016 election due to election day registrations (EDR) alone."
The City of Milwaukee alone saw 886 cases of possible fraud, but the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office refused to say how many they planned to investigate.
Ultimately, it looked into almost none of them.
In every presidential election since 2000, it is a near-certainty that illegal votes were cast in the City of Milwaukee and very few were ever sufficiently investigated and even fewer were ever prosecuted. Instead, Democratic city officials have done everything they could do thwart investigations and even went so far as to prevent investigators from searching out a finding vote fraud.
There is a reason for that.