MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors charged a Wisconsin man Thursday with election fraud and identification theft after he acknowledged that he fraudulently requested absentee ballots in what he says was an effort to show vulnerabilities within the state’s election system.
The state Division of Justice charged 68-year-old Harry Wait with two misdemeanor counts of election fraud and two felony counts of identification theft. He would withstand 13 years behind bars if convicted on all 4 counts.
Wait instructed The Related Press in a phone interview that he wasn’t stunned he was charged.
“You bought to count on to pay some prices typically when you find yourself making an attempt to work for the general public good,” he mentioned. “You may’t at all times keep within the secure zone.”
The charges mark another bizarre chapter in a seemingly endless fight over election administration in Wisconsin, a key battleground state because the 2024 presidential election approaches.
The battle started after Joe Biden gained the state in 2020, defeating former President Donald Trump by practically 21,000 votes. Trump has refused to just accept the loss, insisting the election was marred by fraud. A number of opinions and court docket selections have upheld Biden’s victory, however Trump’s supporters have spent the months since selling his baseless claims that Biden someway stole the election.
Wait publicly acknowledged in July that he visited the state’s MyVote Wisconsin web site and ordered absentee ballots within the identify of Meeting Speaker Robin Vos, Racine Mayor Cory Mason and several other different folks by coming into their private info. He mentioned he requested that the ballots be delivered to his residence.
He mentioned he then told Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling about what he’d done and said he was trying to show the site is vulnerable to fraud.
In keeping with a felony criticism, the Wisconsin Elections Fee notified the state Justice Division on July 28 of eight probably fraudulent absentee poll requests made via MyVote Wisconsin. Investigators found a letter that Harry Wait posted on the H.O.T. Authorities web site. The group promotes sincere, open and clear authorities; Wait is the group’s president.
Wait mentioned within the letter that he had gone on-line and efficiently ordered ballots within the identify of at the very least two different folks and had the ballots shipped to his deal with. The criticism recognized these folks solely as Particular person 1 and Indvidual 2.
Wait went on to say he had obtained permission from others across the state to pose as them and order their ballots shipped to his deal with.
“I stand able to be charged for exposing these voting vulnerabilities after I ordered (Particular person 2)‘s and (Particular person 1)’s absentee poll on-line,” Wait wrote, in response to the criticism.
Investigators additionally discovered a video of a July 28 podcast wherein Wait admitted that he had ordered ballots for each folks to be despatched to his deal with in addition to ballots for others with their permission. He mentioned he anticipated to be arrested and referred to as for others to request absentee ballots in others’ names and have them despatched to state officers.
Justice Division brokers interviewed Wait on Aug. 24, in response to the criticism. He instructed them that he requested the ballots for particular person 1 and a couple of on July 26 whereas he was on the H.O.T. Authorities sales space on the Racine County Truthful and didn’t have their permission. He mentioned he knew he was committing a criminal offense and would do it once more, in response to the criticism.
Wait is because of make an preliminary court docket look on Sept. 8.
This story has been corrected to point out that election fraud is a misdemeanor.
This story has been corrected to point out that Harry Wait’s age is a 68.