On Thursday, Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced that Election Commission Deputy Director Kimberly Zapata was fired for election fraud.
Local outlet Fox 6 reported that Zapata fraudulently requested military absentee ballots, Johnson said, which she then sent to Republican state lawmaker Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who announced in October that she received three military ballots at her home. Brandtjen said she did not request the ballots.
“I believe someone was trying to point out how easy it is to get military ballots in Wisconsin,” the lawmaker said at the time before sending the unopened ballots to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office.
None of the individuals whose names were on the ballots reside or have resided at Brandtjen’s home, and the office started an investigation. Notably, military service members are not required to register or show an ID in order to obtain a ballot.
Brandtjen said in a statement Thursday that “we have uncovered massive amounts of election disparities and a statewide Election Commission that has undeniably broken the law on numerous occasions,” adding, “It’s time we do the people’s business, and that includes the media and both parties taking part.”
Zapata told superiors what she had done, according to Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg.
“It’s my belief that she was pointing out that you can go on to the public system, make up a person, and request a ballot,” Woodall-Vogg said.
“This has every appearance of being an egregious and blatant violation of trust,” Johnson said during a press conference.
“I will not accept, I will not tolerate, and I certainly will not defend any misrepresentation by a city official involved in elections,” he continued. “It does not matter to me that this might have been an effort to expose a vulnerability that state law created. It does not matter to me that the alleged crime did not take place at work. It does not matter to me that the City of Milwaukee ballots were not a part of this. Nor does it matter that there was no attempt to vote illegally or tamper with any election results.”
Johnson said that as soon as he learned of the matter, he revoked Zapata’s access to the office, and deactivated her computer systems. He added that the city is looking into other possible cases of criminal activity and fraud.
“She has been forthcoming about her actions, and we’ve got no indication of any other violations of trust. Even so, we are looking into the possibility of other misdeeds. Let there be no doubt about this, that election integrity is absolutely essential,” he said. “Both our Election Commission executive director and I will make certain Milwaukee’s election administration is conducted with the very highest level of accuracy as well as trust and honesty — without any hints of impropriety.”
Zapata had worked for the city for 10 years, and was part of the election commission for seven years, said a city official.
This move comes less than one week before the midterm election.
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