Reported By Kylee Zempel | OCTOBER 29, 2021
Racine County, Wisconsin law enforcement blew the 2020 election integrity question wide open on Thursday after an investigation into one nursing home. It revealed not only that state election officials flagrantly broke the law and ordered health-care employees to help them, but that the problem likely runs much deeper throughout the swing state’s other 71 counties.
An “election statute was in fact not just broken, but shattered by members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said during a Thursday press conference in which he and Sgt. Michael Luell detailed the findings of an investigation into Ridgewood Care Facility. The investigation came about when a woman named Judy signed a sworn affidavit with the Wisconsin Elections Commission after she discovered that her mother, who had died on Oct. 9, 2020 after a period of severe cognitive decline, had voted in the 2020 presidential election. The affidavit was later passed along as a complaint to the county district attorney. Judy alleged that her mother Shirley’s mental state had deteriorated so far that she was having hallucinations and wasn’t able to recall what she had eaten during a day or even what day it was. According to Judy, her mother couldn’t see — her glasses were broken, and she couldn’t even recognize her own daughter — so even if she were of a sound mind, she wouldn’t have known whether someone assisting her with a ballot had voted according to her wishes.
Luell, who led the investigation at the request of the district attorney, found an unusual spike in voting at this care facility: 42 people had voted in the 2020 presidential election. That number is usually 10. Furthermore, in 2020, 38 people had requested absentee ballots, up from the usual 0-3 in normal years.
When Luell attempted to contact the families of these voters to check whether their loved ones had the cognitive capacity to cast a vote, seven replied no, and almost all of them hadn’t voted since 2012. One of the family members said his mother would ask him who he was, meaning she didn’t recognize her own son. She hadn’t voted since 2012 — yet MyVote Wisconsin revealed she voted twice in 2020.
This surge in voting was the result of Wisconsin Elections Commission officials breaking state law. The commission — which is made up of six commissioners, including three Democrats and three Republicans, who are appointed by legislative leaders or the governor and serve as an agency in the executive branch under the governor — authorized nursing home employees to help residents vote, which Luell noted “is a direct violation of law.” According to Luell, employees would ask residents how they voted in the past and then vote according to that party. In other words, if Judy’s mother “could only recall JFK,” staff would vote Democrat for her.
According to state law, however, nursing home staff can’t assist residents with voting. In fact, nobody can help the voter other than a relative or “special voting deputies,” which are people appointed by municipal clerks or elections boards to conduct absentee voting at care facilities. In March, however, the Wisconsin Elections Commission sent out a letter mandating that municipalities should not use the “special voting deputy process.”
“Ladies and gentleman, it’s not a process. It’s the law,” Luell said, citing state Statute 6.875.
The original letter was issued under the guise of COVID guidelines. Nevertheless, in September, after the governors’ lockdown orders had expired and the initial shock of the pandemic had passed, the Wisconsin Elections Commission sent a letter to all residential care facilities telling the workers how to help residents vote, including even marking the ballot for them, in direct violation of state law. Racine law enforcement looked at 2020 visitor logs and found that other visitors were let into the nursing home throughout the pandemic, about 900 times between the decision in March not to use special voting deputies and November 2020. Those visitors included someone to clean the fish tanks and birdcages and even DoorDash delivery people.
“Those people were allowed into the Ridgewood Care Facility, but heaven forbid we make an exception for special voting deputies,” Luell said.
Under Wisconsin state statute 12.13, breaking these laws about special voting deputies constitutes “election fraud,” which is a felony.
“We’re just one of 72 counties, Racine County,” Schmaling noted. “Ridgeland is one of 11 facilities within our county. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of these facilities throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. We would be foolish, we would be foolish to think for a moment that this integrity issue, this violation of the statute, occurred to just this small group of people at one care facility in one county in the entire state. I would submit to you that this needs the attorney general’s investigation,” the sheriff said, calling for the AG to launch an immediate probe into the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
This bombshell investigation is only the latest in the long list of malfeasant actions by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, especially regarding the 2020 election. As Wisconsin radio host and lawyer Dan O’Donnell put it, the commission “was downright derelict in its duty to fairly and impartially oversee an election.”
As O’Donnell documented, the commission unlawfully allowed clerks to “cure” ballots, illegally permitted clerks to go home on election night and return to finish counting in the morning, and illegally told clerks they could relocate polling locations in the weeks before the election.
Furthermore, the commission failed to issue relevant laws and rules for training municipal election workers, special voting deputies, and election inspections. Worse, it failed to investigate voter rolls for the hundreds of thousands there incorrectly, including more than 45,000 first-time voters whose names didn’t match Department of Transportation records, among other issues.
As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway outlines in her new book “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections,” the Wisconsin Elections Commission also wrongly kept third-party candidates off the ballot, including Kanye West and the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins. Third parties can significantly affect elections in the Dairy State.
“Following the [Legislative Audit Bureau] report, what Sheriff Schmaling has uncovered + disclosed might only be tip of the iceberg of fraud in the 2020 election. The Legislature must be given the time, resources, and cooperation of election officials to conduct a complete investigation of allegations,” tweeted Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin following the Racine press conference. “Using elderly residents with cognitive decline to commit election fraud is reprehensible, and should concern every Wisconsinite and American.”
Johnson continued: “If Democrats will stoop this low to impact elections, one can only imagine what else they’re willing to do.”