MADISON — Latoya Lewis told investigators she was trying to reach her voter registration quotas when she registered the same people multiple times. She was working for the now-defunct liberal group ACORN.
In 2009, the Milwaukee woman pleaded guilty to election fraud charges. She received one-year behind bars, but the judge stayed the sentence. Lewis ended up serving 90 days, and was given three years probation.
Lewis is one of dozens of people who have been convicted of voter fraud in Wisconsin, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database.
Voter fraud happens. While convictions may be difficult to achieve, election experts say the circumstances were ripe for gaming the 2020 presidential election.
Reports of voting irregularities and questions about voter fraud are top of mind in a tightly contested presidential election in which President Trump saw significant leads in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, evaporate in extended absentee vote counts.
Dirty voter rolls
The Wisconsin Elections Commission left open the door for fraudsters when it refused to clean up the state’s voter rolls, leaving in place the name of more than 100,000 voters who appear to have moved.
“It goes to the broader question of taking appropriate steps to ensure the integrity of the elections,” said Rick Esenberg, president and general Council of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
WILL is leading the lawsuit demanding the Elections Commission clean up the state’s voter rolls in a timely fashion. The commission refused to do so, allowing the names of movers to remain on the rolls for up to two years. The concern is individuals ineligible to vote may have cast ballots in an election in which Democrat Joe Biden unofficially beat President Donald Trump by a razor thin margin — some 20,000 votes.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to take up the lawsuit, but it wouldn’t issue a decision until after the presidential election.
Recounts and lawsuits
The Trump campaign has vowed to file for a recount in Wisconsin and is challenging election results in other battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Several voter irregularities have been reported in those states. Mainstream media outlets have projected Biden the winner. The Democrat has declared himself president-elect.
But Trump isn’t conceding, and the war for the White House isn’t over.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has asked the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections to use its investigatory powers to “immediately review how the election was administered.”
“With concerns surfacing about mail-In ballot dumps and voter fraud, Wisconsin citizens deserve to know their vote counted,” Vos said in a statement. “There should be no question as to whether the vote was fair and legitimate, and there must be absolute certainty that the impending recount finds any and all irregularities.”
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt on Friday sent out a Call to Action to “ensure that all votes are reported accurately across our state.”
“The President isn’t calling it quits so neither are we — but we need your help,” the email urges.
In some cases, instances of voter fraud have resulted in elections being thrown out and rescheduled, according to Zach Smith, legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.
But just one illegal vote compromises the integrity of the system, Smith said.
“Every fraudulent vote in fact dilutes the legally cast votes of eligible voters,” he said.
The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database includes nearly 1,300 proven incidents of illegal voting from across the country. It is merely a sampling.
“This database is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list. It does not capture all cases and certainly does not capture reported instances that are not investigated or prosecuted,” the website notes. “It is intended to demonstrate the vulnerabilities in the election system and the many ways in which fraud is committed. In addition to diluting the votes of legitimate voters, fraud can have an impact in close elections, and we have many close elections in this country.”
In Wisconsin, the cases include everything from felons voting to double voting to forgery. Some incidents are more egregious than others.
Frank Edmund Walton was convicted in 2010 of falsely procuring voter registrations during the 2008 election, according to the database. While working for the left-wing Community Voters Project, Walton registered 70 voters, but only 16 of those registrations contained accurate information, according to court records. At least one contained information of a deceased voter.
The database includes more recent voter fraud convictions.
As Empower Wisconsin has reported, the Wisconsin Election Commission has referred 43 cases of suspected double voting cases from 2018 to 19 district attorneys offices in the state. In one of the cases under review in Green County, the DA there found that a voter, now deceased, not only voted twice in the same 2018 federal election (In Wisconsin and Illinois), but did the same in the 2016 federal election.
Smith said the left’s campaign to use the pandemic to expand vote-by-mail initiatives has compromised election integrity.
“Vote-by-mail is inherently less secure than in-person voting. Mail votes get rejected at a higher rate than in-person voting,” the elections expert said. “We saw a lot of election offices just weren’t prepared to handle the volume of mail votes.”
Smith said Trump faces an uphill battle in his legal arguments.
“Unfortunately, voter fraud is hard to discover and harder to prove,” he said.