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DA finds no crime in election; GAB responds to state Republicans calling recall 'utter mockery'

DA finds no crime in election; GAB responds to state Republicans calling recall 'utter mockery'

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RACINE — County investigators have found no evidence of criminal activity after looking into claims of alleged voter fraud at Racine polling places during the June 5 recall election.

The Racine County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s office made the announcement via a press release on Friday, stating that they will not be filing charges related to the allegations.

The announcement comes after a nearly month-long investigation the two offices the made into four separate complaints of alleged voter fraud.

The complaints included allegations of a poll worker soliciting voters, the discovery of suspicious voter registration documents in garbage bin, the mishandling of absentee ballots, and violations involving same-day voter registration procedures.

The complaints arose after former state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, defeated state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, in the June 5 recall.

In the release officials state that “a thorough inquiry” was made into the “somewhat limited information” provided to the offices in the complaints, and the “information did not rise to the level required for a criminal prosecution.”

“Complaints about poll workers, same day registration procedures and electioneering, can be, but in this case, did not rise to the level of a crime in Wisconsin,” the release states.

The release goes on to state that the DA’s office has requested that the Racine City Clerk’s office identify voter irregularities; “such as ineligible voters who voted illegally and voters who may have voted more than once.” If vote irregularities are discovered, it will ask that the names of those voters be forwarded to law enforcement for prosecution.

GAB response

News on the investigations came just hours after the GAB issued a five-page letter in which it blasted unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud for undermining voter confidence.

“Speaking frankly on behalf of our agency and local election officials, absent direct evidence, I believe continued unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud tend to unnecessarily undermine the confidence that voters have in election officials and the results of the election,” states the Friday letter from the GAB Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy.

“I know we agree that elections should be open and transparent and subject to scrutiny and analysis. I hope that, as an elected official, you would also agree that there is little benefit in promoting unsupported allegations questioning the credibility of the election process and the work of local clerks and election inspectors.”

The letter, which addresses specific issues like allegations of ballot bag tampering and of improper voter registration, poll book concerns and more, is in response to the single-page letter to the GAB earlier this week signed by several Assembly Republicans asking them to resolve election issues before November.

“It is an utter mockery of our system and clerks are simply not complying with the law,” the original letter states. It was signed by State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Robin Vos, among others, and points to several reported problems in the recall for the 21st state Senate District.

GAB continued in its response that they will review the canvassing board minutes and any complaints and present a report on Aug. 28 summarizing issues that rose during the recall and in the Racine recount. It also noted a staff team was created based on lessons from this year’s elections to focus on preparing for elections in the fall, including educating and training local election officials and voters.

The state Assembly leaders released a brief statement in response Friday, saying they’re looking forward to a strategic plan for upcoming elections and continued: “However, it is our goal to come back next session to correct the problems that have been discovered and restore the integrity of our election process.”

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