Milwaukee Fires Official Over False Ballot Requests

Boss suggests Kimberly Zapata was trying to show flaws in the system
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2022 5:00 PM CDT
Milwaukee Fires Official Over False Ballot Requests
Workers count Milwaukee County ballots on Nov. 3, 2020, Election Day, in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash File)

A top Milwaukee elections official has been fired after sending falsely obtained military absentee ballots to the home of a Republican state lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of how the 2020 election was administered, the city's mayor said Thursday. Kimberly Zapata, deputy director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, requested military ballots for fictitious voters from clerks in nearby municipalities using the state's MyVote Wisconsin website, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said just days before the midterm election, the AP reports. "This has every appearance of being an egregious, blatant violation of trust, and this matter is now in the hands of law enforcement," said Johnson.

As part of her job, Zapata oversaw the counting of absentee ballots in Milwaukee. The mayor said the city is investigating whether she might have committed any other offenses. The ballots were sent to the home of Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly elections committee and has voiced support for overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state and promoted conspiracy theories about the same. Earlier this week, Brandtjen's office said she had received three ballots for military voters she believed to be fictitious. Brandtjen said then she thought someone was trying to show how easy it is to get military ballots in Wisconsin.

A possible motive for obtaining and sending the ballots wasn't immediately clear. Zapata did not immediately respond to messages left Thursday, and an attorney for Zapata declined to comment. But her boss, commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg, said she thought Zapata was intent on illustrating a vulnerability in the system. She said Zapata had, to her knowledge, never before violated work policies or procedures. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said that his office was reviewing allegations against Zapata and that he expects charges to be filed in days. In Wisconsin, military voters are not required to register to vote, meaning they don't need to provide a photo ID to request an absentee ballot. The Wisconsin Elections Commission and local elections officials who send out and collect ballots have a number of safeguards in place to catch fraudulent absentee ballot requests.

(More election fraud stories.)

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