Racine Officials Pressured to Reveal Results of 'Voter Irregularity' Investigation
A Democratic group wants the Racine County DA and the Sheriff to let residents know if they found anything during an investigation into voter irregularities stemming from the June 5 recall election.
**Updated 5:30 pm
One Wisconsin Now issued a press release Friday turning up the heat on the Racine County District Attorney and the Racine County Sheriff to let people know what they found investigating claims of voting irregularities from the June 5 recall elections.
Senator-elect John Lehman unseated Republican Van Wanggaard by 834 votes as certified by the Racine County Clerk's Board of Canvass. Wanggaard requested a recount that confirmed Lehman's win by a slightly smaller margin of 819 votes. On July 10 Wanggaard announced he would not file an appeal challenging the results of the recount despite his campaign noting over 1,000 objections to things like missing signatures, missing pages from poll books and partially opened ballot bags.
“Republican appointees and campaign contributors convening an ‘investigation’ of an election lost by a Republican, based on the complaints of a Republican activist, looks a lot more like a partisan shenanigans than a legitimate inquiry,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “They owe the people of Racine County answers and they owe it to them now.”
Late Friday afternoon, the Racine County DA did issue a press release stating that after a thorough investigation, there was no basis for criminal prosecution.
The investigations were launched after a citizen said he found voting documents in a dumpster behind the Caesar Chavez Center and others said they witnessed irregularities at the Bryant Center.
After receiving documents about the irregularities, Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete turned the case over to the Racine County Sheriff to investigate. Racine County GOP board member Lou D'Abbraccio collected papers from several poll observers he helped coordinate and gave them to the Sheriff's department. D'Abbraccio's group alleges:
- A polling inspector refused to uphold the challenge of a poll watcher, who saw that a voter had showed improper documentation to a poll worker at Bryant Park in Racine. The voter had submitted a handwritten rental receipt as proof of residency.
- A poll worker at the Jefferson Lighthouse was seen canvassing while she was supposed to be working. The woman claimed she was asked to let voters know that they shouldn't park near the student play area, but poll watchers followed the woman outside and noticed she was going door to door.
- A poll worker provided assistance to voters and did not document it.
- In at least one polling site, poll workers were supposed to have a witness oversee the transfer of copy of absentee ballots onto real ballots that could go through the machine, but they only had one person doing the work Caesar Chavez Center in Racine.
Sheriff Chris Schmaling said reports from the investigation were forwarded to the DA's office and it's not up to the sheriff's office to release any information until or unless the DA says it's okay to do so.
"We completed our investigation and gave the reports to the DA's office," he said. "Sometimes the sheriff's office is asked to do some follow up in the course of an investigation and it's really up to the DA to decide when to file charges or not. We generally don't release information unless we get the 'OK' from the DA."
The release from One Wisconsin Now calls out the DA and the Sheriff for dilly dallying because of their support for Gov. Scott Walker and Republican Van Wanggaard, pointing out that very few cases of voter fraud have ever been substantiated.
"The GOP continues to perpetuate the myth of widespread fraud despite similar investigations failing to uncover any. In 2008, for example, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen conducted a much-heralded investigation and found all of 14 improper votes out of the 3 million cast," the statement continues. "But this is what happens every election: baseless allegations by the Republicans claiming voter fraud that are proven time and time again to be complete and total lies.”