Nov 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Wisconsin lawmaker sues to block military ballots from being counted

Ballots are distributed for use on Wisconsins state primary day on Aug. 9, 2022. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

A Wisconsin state lawmaker on Friday filed a lawsuit to temporarily halt the counting of military ballots in the state after she received absentee ballots with fake names.

Driving the news: The suit was brought on by a veterans group and three people, including state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who has been criticized by election officials for promoting false claims about voter fraud, according to the Washington Post.

  • "The Plaintiffs want to ensure that any close election result is not determined by non-qualified people voting military elector absentee ballots," the lawsuit states.

Details: Brandtjen, who is chair of the State Assembly’s elections committee, allegedly received the ballots bearing fake names from Kimberly Zapata, a Milwaukee election official, per WashPost.

  • Zapata told prosecutors she was trying to inform Brandtjen about a weakness in the state’s voting system so it could be addressed, WashPost reports. But Zapata was fired and charged with a felony and three misdemeanors.
  • Brandtjen has been criticized by election officials for spreading false information about the system.

Context: Wisconsin, unlike most states, allows military members to cast their ballots without registering to vote or providing proof of residency.

  • The suit is using the incident to argue that military ballots should be authenticated under state law.

What they're saying: “I believe someone was trying to point out how easy it is to get military ballots in Wisconsin. Registration for military ballots is not required, so a fictitious name and birthdate is all that is required to obtain a military ballot online," Brandtjen said in a statement.

  • "Feeling shocked about this situation is an understatement because it demonstrates stolen valor from those who protect this nation," she added.
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