After conservative group reportedly requests absentee ballots for Vos, Racine mayor illegally, WEC approves mailers to confirm requests

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Elections Commission Thursday night took steps to prevent further voter fraud in the wake of reported abuse of the state’s absentee ballot request system by a conservative group.

The group H.O.T. Government illegally requested absentee ballots for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason, according to a release from Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls. The group used a system maintained by the WEC to request the ballots, saying they did so to expose vulnerabilities in the system.

In the statement, Brandtjen said the incident points out the “ridiculous voting failures in Wisconsin.”

“With nothing but a name and birthdate, the ballots could be sent anywhere,” she said. “H.O.T. Government immediately turned themselves into the Racine County Sheriff’s Department. WEC has created an unsecure [sic], online system of ballot distribution that must now be shut down.”

In an emergency meeting Thursday night, however, WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe said their alleged voter fraud does not indicate any vulnerabilities in the state system and that it was simply a criminal act.

The bipartisan commission approved a mailer Thursday night that will go out to some absentee voters who listed a different mailing address than their voting address on their absentee ballot request form. The mailer will ask the voter to check that they filled out the request and that it was not fraudulently done.

The commission also approved a memo that will be sent out to local election officials to be aware of similar acts of fraud that others may take and remind local officials they are obligated to turn over evidence of possible fraud to their local district attorney for possible charges.

“I think we really need to make a bold statement very very quickly,” said Commissioner Mark Thomsen, a Democratic appointee.

The commission is expected to meet next week and could take further action.

Racine sheriff backs acts of voter fraud

Racine Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, who would have jurisdiction over the alleged voter fraud, indicated Thursday he would not pursue an investigation against those who illegally requested the absentee ballots.

The Washington Post Thursday confirmed that H.O.T. Government leader Harry Wait told Schmaling he was the one who had illegally requested the absentee ballots.

In the conversation with Schmaling, Wait said the sheriff committed to not arresting him for the crime.

Instead, Schmaling took to Facebook to question the efficacy of the WEC-managed site. Like Brandtjen, he called for it to be taken down.

“The Sheriff’s Office is requesting a full, state-wide, investigation into this voter integrity issue by the Attorney General’s Office and the Wisconsin Election Commission to ensure the voting process is secure and that appropriate safeguards are in place,” Schmaling said in a statement.

Schmaling, a Republican, had previously called for charges to be filed against members of the WEC for guidance for approving pandemic-era guidance that made voting in nursing homes easier.