Racine County Sheriff's Department investigators have presented evidence that the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) committed felony election fraud by telling nursing home staffers to violate state law and fill out ballots on behalf of nursing home residents who were unable to themselves.
During a news conference Thursday, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said WEC commissioners and staff who prohibited legally-required special voting deputies from entering nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and instead told nursing home staff members to assist residents in voting committed a Class I felony, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of three years, six months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Wisconsin Statute 6.875 explicitly provides that special voting deputies are the only people authorized to assist in voting in nursing homes and that “no individual who is employed or retained, or within the two years preceding appointment has been employed or retained, at a qualified retirement home or residential care facility in the municipality, or any member of the individual’s immediate family…may be appointed to serve as a deputy.”
On March 10, 2020, WEC requested that Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers suspend the requirement that special voting deputies be deployed to nursing homes. The Governor's Office informed WEC that the Governor does not have the power to suspend voting laws, even during a public health emergency.
"What we are really saying here is...that, despite what the law says, the election commission is saying, in this instance, we need to have some flexibility to not follow the law," Commissioner Dean Knudson said at the time.
According to Wisconsin Statute 12.13(2)(b)(7), "no election official may...in the course of the person's official duties or on account of the person's official position, intentionally violate or intentionally cause any other person to violate" any election law. Violation of this provision is a Class I felony. Investigators say that when WEC instructed nursing home staff to violate state law, it violated Wis. Stat. 12.13(2)(b)(7).
"We have a Wisconsin Election Commission that failed to follow the law," Sheriff Schmaling said. "This starts at the top."
Because of this unlawful advice, investigators allege, dozens of residents of the Ridgewood Care Center in Mount Pleasant who normally do not vote (and whose loved ones say either had no interest in voting or not enough cognitive ability to vote) made a new request for a ballot ahead of the 2020 presidential election and cast their ballot with "help" from the center's staff.
This included Judy, a "Dan O'Donnell Show" listener who reported that her mother Shirley--a Ridgewood resident--voted even though "the only president [Shirley] could remember was JFK." "The Dan O'Donnell Show" reported on the incident last November and suggested to Judy to report it to local law enforcement. She did, and in so doing launched the Racine County Sheriff's Department's investigation.
In all, 42 Ridgewood residents voted in the 2020 election, and 38 of them made new requests for ballots during 2020. Racine investigators say "during a presidential or non-presidential election, usually approximately 10 people will vote and 0 to 3 people will make a fresh request for an absentee ballot from the Ridgewood Care Center."
The investigation determined that applications for absentee ballots were "pre-filled out by facility staff" and that staff members served as witnesses to the actual voting.
Voting was supervised by Ridgewood's Director of Recreational Therapy, who told investigators that "if a resident could only point to the ballot, her staff would fill in the appropriate dot."
In Shirley's case, the Director of Recreational Therapy said she was "confident Shirely wanted to vote, but then admitted she did not have contact with the residents."
At least seven other family members of Ridgewood residents told investigators that their loved ones could not possibly have voted on their own, including one who "would not have known who the candidates were." According to records on MyVote Wisconsin, there is no record of this resident voting in any other election.
"Someone must have taken advantage of her," her daughter told investigators.
Another resident "has been determined to be incompetent" and even "had her right to vote taken away" by a court. She is "not allowed to sign any legal documents because she is so impaired" and "would not have known how to request an absentee ballot." According to MyVote records, she voted in the 2020 election for the first time since 2012.
Yet another resident did not recognize her own son and believed that her own mother, who actually died in 1995, "died a few weeks ago." She had not voted since MyVote records started in 2012, but in both the 2020 spring and presidential elections.