Former Milwaukee elections official charged with misconduct
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors charged a former top Milwaukee elections official with felony misconduct in office Friday after she allegedly sent falsely obtained military absentee ballots to a Republican state lawmaker who has advanced election fraud conspiracy theories.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office also charged Kimberly Zapata with three misdemeanor counts of election fraud. She’s due to make her initial court appearance Nov. 28. Her attorney, Michael Maistelman, had no immediate comment, saying only that he would litigate the case in court, not in the media.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson said Thursday that Zapata, the former Milwaukee Elections Commission deputy director, requested military ballots for fictitious voters from clerks in nearby municipalities using the state’s MyVote Wisconsin website. The mayor said Zapata was fired immediately after the city learned of her alleged actions. It’s unclear when she was actually terminated.
She had the ballots sent to the home of Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly elections committee. Brandtjen has voiced support for overturning the 2020 president election results in Wisconsin and has promoted conspiracy theories about the election.
Multiple recounts and court rulings have determined that President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by about 21,000 votes to win the state in 2020, although some Republicans have refused to accept that.
Brandtjen’s office said earlier this week that she had received three ballots for military voters she believed were not real people. She said then she thought someone was trying to show how easy it is to obtain military ballots in Wisconsin.
Military voters are not required to show a photo ID to request an absentee ballot in Wisconsin. The MyVote website does require a ballot requestor to verity that they are the person asking for it and carries a warning about potential penalties for committing fraud.
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