By: Brian Sikma
Two men suspected by prosecutors of committing voter fraud in the November 6, 2012 general election used Wisconsin’s same day voter registration provision to allegedly break the law. According to documents attached to a subpoena request filed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office, Leonard K. Brown and Chad Vander Hyden each cast two ballots in the November general election last year. Prosecutors are currently gathering more information that could be used in a potential case against the two men.
Leonard K. Brown, according to election documents, voted early on November 2 in the Village of West Milwaukee. Four days later he registered to vote at a Milwaukee polling place and then, prosecutors’ believe, cast a second ballot.
When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel broke the news of the investigation on Wednesday, it quoted Brown denying that he actually cast a second ballot. That could mean he walked into a likely busy polling place on election day and merely registered to cast a vote but never took a ballot. Prosecutors assert that the voter number jotted on Brown’s November 6 registration form means that he was assigned a ballot.
To prove his residency in registering on Election Day, Brown used a WE Energies bill.
Chad Vander Hyden, the second man under investigation, cast a ballot in West Allis on November 6, of last year and registered to vote and cast yet another ballot in Mukwonago on the same day.
Both men came to the attention of prosecutors after election officials noticed the discrepancies after the election. None of the mechanisms currently in place to protect elections as they are happening worked to prevent these two instances of alleged and suspected double voting.
Central to the ability of these individuals to double vote is Wisconsin’s same day voter registration system. Only nine states allow for same day voter registration in every election, and only two states allow for same day registration during presidential elections.
A proposal to expand voter registration opportunities in Wisconsin while ending same day registration was derided by left-wing groups who argued that the system has no flaws. A spokesperson for the liberal group One Wisconsin Now blasted Governor Scott Walker and legislators who expressed an interest in making Wisconsin’s election laws more like those of other states. The suggested reform was called a “scheme to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters.”
Scot Ross, the executive director of One Wisconsin Now who left his job in the state capitol under the cloud of an ethics scandal, authoritatively declared in late November “there is no good reason to eliminate same day registration in Wisconsin.”
Liberal activists have worked to place an advisory referendum, basically a non-binding political statement, in front of Milwaukee voters for the April non-partisan election affirming support for same day voter registration. The measure could help them gin up votes for liberal candidates at a time when voter turnout is normally quite low.
The cases of Brown and Vander Hyden show that Wisconsin’s same day registration system does not give election officials the tools they need to prevent some types of voter fraud from happening on election day. In this area, Wisconsin is decidedly lagging behind.
Documents and evidence here: MKEvoterfraudevidence