Wisconsin sheriff wants charges filed over nursing home vote

RACINE, Wis. (AP) — A sheriff on Wednesday recommended that five members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission be criminally charged for telling local elections officials to send absentee ballots to eight nursing home residents in 2020 instead of sending poll workers to oversee voting there during the coronavirus pandemic.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, a Republican, earlier called on state Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, to launch a statewide investigation on allegations of election fraud at Mount Pleasant’s Ridgewood Care Center. Schmaling said so-called Special Voting Deputies should have been sent in to help residents who did not have the mental capacity to vote.

Kaul responded that Racine County officials should file charges if they believe election laws were broken. Schmaling was quick to make the next move, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

“Based upon the failure of Attorney General Josh Kaul to initiate a statewide investigation, I have forwarded charging recommendations to the Racine County District Attorney’s Office for their review,” said a release signed by Schmaling and Sgt. Michael Luell, who led the investigation into Ridgewood.

The district attorney’s office did not return a message left Wednesday afternoon by The Associated Press.

The allegations are the latest example of Trump supporters seeking to undermine confidence in the 2020 presidential election in a critical battleground state that President Joe Biden carried. The state justice department has already said it has no plans to pursue the case.

The commission voted 5-1 against sending poll workers into nursing homes due to a safer-at-home order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Schmaling said the five commissioners who voted no should each face two felony and two misdemeanor charges. Charges were not recommended the commissioner who voted yes.

Schmaling has said he’s not trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and that his staff has no idea how the eight Ridgewood voters at the center of the investigation cast their ballots.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has said the Racine County sheriff’s office’s conclusions are wrong and that no crimes were committed.