Jeramey Jannene

Illegal Ballot Requests Came From Deputy Milwaukee Election Director

Kimberly Zapata was terminated Wednesday after revealing action.

By - Nov 3rd, 2022 11:00 am
Returned ballots for the November 2020 election. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Returned ballots for the November 2020 election. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The number two election official for the City of Milwaukee committed voter fraud.

The three absentee military ballots sent to the home of Assembly Representative Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) were requested by Kimberly Zapata, deputy director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced the news in a press conference Thursday morning. He said Zapata committed the act outside of work and was terminated immediately upon revealing the news to city officials. She was already on leave for a personal matter.

“I was stunned, absolutely stunned to hear the very serious allegations against her,” said Johnson. “I will not accept, I will not tolerate and I certainly will not defend any misrepresentation by a city official involved in elections.”

Zapata, 45, was a longtime city employee. She was promoted to the deputy director role in July by executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg. The executive director said Zapata had worked for the commission for about seven years and the city for 10 years.

“It does not matter to me that city of Milwaukee ballots were not part of this. Nor does it matter that there was no attempt to vote illegally or tamper with any election results,” said Johnson. “This has every appearance of being egregious, blatant violation of trust.”

The revelation comes just five days before the Nov. 8 general election. The City of Milwaukee’s election processes has been under intense scrutiny in recent years because it often reports its results later than smaller communities given the logistical difficulties of processing a large number of absentee ballots spanning more than 300 wards. The city does, however, report how many absentee ballots it has in the lead-up to and on election day.

”We are confident there are no issues with the votes or the integrity of this election,” said mayoral communications director Jeff Fleming.

“Up until this point we had never had any indication of violations of work policies or procedures,” said Woodall-Vogg. But she said a full review was underway.

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case for possible charges. “We expect charges to be filed in the coming days,” said the office in a statement issued after this article was first published.

Zapata is represented by attorney Michael Maistelman.

Brandtjen is a chair of the Wisconsin State Assembly‘s Elections Committee.

Zapata, said Woodall-Vogg, is believed to have used the public-facing My Vote WI state website to request the ballots. Using a loophole enshrined in state law, a military voter can request an absentee ballot be mailed to any address without submitting any identification. Zapata is believed to have created three fictitious military members that resided in Milwaukee suburbs and had the ballots sent to Brandtjen’s Waukesha County home.

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday it was searching for the individual who requested the ballots. Brandtjen characterized the matter earlier this week as someone attempting to expose a loophole in the state’s election system.

“I believe someone was trying to point out how easy it is to get military ballots in Wisconsin,” said the legislator in a statement. “Feeling shocked about this situation is an understatement because it demonstrates stolen valor from those who protect this nation. I think it’s sad that people feel they have to break the law to get the attention of the legislature.”

Brandtjen compared the military ballot requests to crimes committed by Harry Wait, who requested ballots for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason earlier this year. Wait, a leader of the H.O.T. Government group that promotes claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, was charged with multiple felonies.

“If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it 100 times over if necessary to bring public awareness to the vulnerabilities in [the Wisconsin Elections Commission] and how it can be exposed and exploited,” said Wait in September.

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5 thoughts on “Illegal Ballot Requests Came From Deputy Milwaukee Election Director”

  1. nickzales says:

    If true, this is a slap in the face to the countless election workers who are honest. Shameful and stupid.

  2. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Who guessed you get caught if you try to commit voter fraud?

  3. steenwyr says:

    While stupid on her part, given this “Using a loophole enshrined in state law” it doesn’t seem like anyone should be surprised — if anything she volunteered to test a feature of the MyVote website for payment in felonies.

    One does have to wonder if though, why Brandtjen, and why now?

  4. JE Brown says:

    Please note, too, that this loophole was put in place by the Republican legislature and signed into law nby Scott Walker, possibly to garner more votes from members of the military. It is unfortunate that the only way to get Republicans to pay attention to lousy legislation is to throw it in their faces (figuratively speaking, of course).

  5. Jaimcb says:

    Let those deniers know that, on those rare occasions, anyone commits voter fraud—they will get caught. Our system works. Respect the Vote!

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