Was the 2020 election free and fair? Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling thinks it was not, at least in Racine County and Wisconsin. His investigation has shown that the election laws were not just broken; they were shattered.
Schmaling carried out the investigation together with Sgt. Michael Luell.
Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by a margin of more than 20,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election. A recount confirmed the same, but Republicans have still disputed this on the grounds that the election was not free and fair.
Schmaling was probably never going to do any investigation if a woman had not filed a complaint that her ailing mother voted even though the mother was at the time not in a position to recognize her. In fact, her mother was beginning to hallucinate.
That was the tip of the iceberg. While following up on this complaint, Schmaling discovered that eight patients staying at the Ridgewood Care Center could not even recognize family members due to diminished capacity. However, these incapacitated patients were still able to vote by mail-in ballots!
There were other situations of residents having broken glasses and impaired vision voting.
Schmaling now believes that there may be many other instances across the state; therefore, a full-blown investigation should be initiated.
Who Is To Blame?
Schmaling and Luell lay the blame squarely at the doorstep of the Wisconsin Election Commission. They say the WEC committed an electoral crime when it urged towns they didn’t have to follow state law requiring “Special Voting Deputies” to go into the nursing homes to ensure that those who wanted to vote could vote. These deputies are usually bipartisan; moreover, they help prevent electoral fraud by ensuring the actual person is voting for themselves.
Instead, staff members played the role of the SVDs throughout 2020. This is against state law.
Did WEC Know It Was Breaking The Law?
Yes, Luell has evidence in the form of a recording. One of the Commissioners on the WEC could be clearly heard admitting that they would in effect be telling clerks to commit an electoral crime if they stood in for SVDs.
According to Luell, the right thing for WEC to do would have been to find better alternatives to traditional SVDs for the sake of election integrity. In the Racine County Sheriff’s presentation, they asked: “How can we know the staff member assisting filled in the ballot correctly?”
This question is asked obviously with incapacitated patients or people with impaired vision in mind. Again, while WEC has met virtually for months, it never advised that SVDs should as well follow suit.
While reviewing WEC visitor logs, Luell noted that throughout 2020, tens of non-employees and non-residents accessed the facility, yet no exceptions were made for SVDs. The non-employees and non-residents included maintenance workers as well as those coming in for interviews. There is at least one DoorDash food delivery driver.
Is The Attorney General Investigating This Serious Crime?
Schmaling contacted Attorney General Josh Kaul, who refused to investigate the matter. Kaul is a democrat. However, when this story hit the headlines, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) under Kaul had this to say:
“Here, DOJ was previously in contact with Sheriff Schmaling, and DOJ advised that certain interviews be conducted that had not been at that time. Significantly, no charges have been filed in this case by the Racine County DA’s office. DOJ is also currently not aware of similar allegations anywhere else in Wisconsin.”
How Has WEC Reacted?
On Friday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reacted by issuing a statement that sought to clear the air on the issues raised by the sheriff’s investigation. According to the statement, the undersigned commissioners who serve on the WEC showed their opposition to and ‘strenuous disagreement’ with the allegations from the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
“To put it simply, we did not break the law,” asserted Commission Chair Ann Jacobs, an attorney from Milwaukee. “In fact, without action from the Commission, many residents in Wisconsin care facilities could have and would have been disenfranchised and not able to vote in the 2020 elections.”
“The Commission finds it horrifying and offensive if that sort of thing happened in Racine, or anywhere in Wisconsin,” said Commissioner Dean Knudson. “Nobody should ever be coerced or otherwise influenced as part of exercising their right to vote. We would encourage and expect the full force of the law to investigate that situation and prosecute any identified offenders.”
Holding People Accountable
Schmaling has maintained there were clear law violations, and his investigation is just trying to hold people accountable. It is not clear if anything concrete will be done to follow up on these allegations.
As things stand, it is worrying to imagine if this kind of malpractice could have happened on a large scale across the state. How many nursing homes lacked SVDs? Schmaling has just started his investigation and hopes that more people will come up with reports.