Wisconsin election violations: Racine County sheriff recommends charges

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Wednesday, Nov. 3 announced that he has recommended charges against five Wisconsin elections commissioners for alleged violations of state election law.

In a news release, the sheriff said the Wisconsin Elections Commission ordered clerks across the state "not to use the Special Voting Deputy ‘process’" as required by state statute.

Per Schmaling, he has recommended charges for Commissioners Margaret Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson, and Mark Thomsen. Those recommendations come "upon the failure of (Wisconsin) Attorney General Josh Kaul to initiate a statewide investigation.

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The recommended charges are the same for each commissioner, the sheriff's office said, and include:

  • Misconduct in public office (felony)
  • Election fraud – election official assisting with violations (felony)
  • Party to the crime of election fraud – receive ballot non-election official (misdemeanor)
  • Party to the crime of election fraud – illegal ballot receipt (misdemeanor)
  • Party to the crime of election fraud – solicit assistance (misdemeanor)

Ridgewood Care Center

Schmaling said last Thursday that families of eight Ridgewood Care Center residents in Mount Pleasant told investigators their loved ones did not have the capacity to vote – but cast ballots anyway.

"A family member’s concern – that does not disqualify an otherwise qualified elector from voting.  It’s only through a court proceeding that someone’s right to vote can be removed," said Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said Monday. "If there were instances of coercion or procedures not followed by the care facility or jurisdiction – then those need to be referred to district attorneys."

The sheriff’s office on Wednesday again called on Kaul to conduct a statewide investigation into the alleged directives issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission.

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Kaul responded that Racine County officials should file charges if they believe election laws were broken. Schmaling was quick to make the next move, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has said the sheriff’s office’s conclusions are wrong and that no crimes were committed.

The commission voted 5-1 against sending poll workers into nursing homes due to a safer-at-home order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Charges were not recommended for the commissioner who voted yes.

Schmaling has said he’s not trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and that his staff has no idea how the eight Ridgewood voters at the center of the investigation cast their ballots.

The district attorney's office did not return a message left Wednesday afternoon by The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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