Wisconsin activist Harry Waite charged with voter fraud


MADISON, Wisconsin – Prosecutors filed voter fraud charges Thursday against a man who ordered absentee ballots on behalf of two other people in support of his claim that it was easy to violate election law.

Efforts to show election fraud are likely to win conservative activist Harry Waite on two felony and two misdemeanor charges. Waite said in an interview that he insisted on the decision to send ballots to his home on behalf of the speaker of the state House and the mayor of Racine, Wisconsin.

“In hindsight, I’d do it a hundred more times,” Wait said.

Waite is chairman of a group called HOT Government, named after its commitment to “honest, open and transparent government.” For the past two years, he has used his platform to question the state’s election laws and practices.

In July, he used a state online portal called MyVote Wisconsin to ask for primaries in the names of Speaker Robin Wisconsin (right) and Racine Mayor Corey Mason (right) — a longtime critic of the two officials. Mason’s ballot was sent to Waite’s home in Dover, Wisconsin, but not Voss. Wait said he returned Mason’s unopened ballot to county officials.

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Shortly after claiming the ballot, Wait notified the county sheriff and the top prosecutor, telling them what he had done and preparing to arrest himself. Wait argued that his ability to make the request showed the MyVote portal was flawed and called on officials to shut it down.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling (right) told Wait he would not arrest him and praised him for alerting the public to the issue. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaur (D) announced shortly after the state Department of Justice was investigating the matter.

On Thursday, Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Susan Harp charged Wait with two felonies of unauthorized use of personally identifiable information and two misdemeanors of election fraud. If convicted on all charges, Wait could face up to 13 years in prison and a $22,000 fine.

The criminal complaint described Wait as asking for votes on behalf of “Individual 1” and “Individual 2.” Other records, along with Wait’s own comments, show them to be Vos and Mason. The complaint alleges that Wait also ordered ballots in the names of others after obtaining their permission. He has not been charged with any crime for ordering the ballots.

Waite has repeatedly admitted that he did what the criminal complaint alleges. He said Thursday that he initially planned to represent himself, arguing that he did not break the law because he did not believe the MyVote system was legally authorized. Election officials shrugged off his claims that the portal was legally invalid.

“You have to do what you have to do to protect the Republic,” Wait said. “What I did was on the record. I gave the Justice Department everything it needed to indict me. I would stand in front of 12 jurors and see if they agreed with the Justice Department.”

With MyVote, anyone can look up voters knowing their name and date of birth. Once logged in, they can order absentee ballots and request that they be sent anywhere. This option can be used so that voters who are temporarily away can send their ballots to where they live.

Most voters in Wisconsin must provide a copy of their photo ID when applying for an absentee ballot for the first time.Those who say they are indefinite voters under state law People who are confined to their home because of age or disability do not have to provide ID. Wait uses the feature to sidestep the ID requirement, he said.

Requesting a ballot through MyVote generates an email to the voter’s city clerk, who will ultimately decide whether to send the ballot. The Mason community clerk mailed his ballot to Wait, but the Vos community clerk did not mail it after checking the request. She said she also blocked another ballot from being sent overseas in Voss’ name.

Voter fraud is rare. Last year, the Wisconsin Board of Elections identified 41 incidents of potential voter fraud in the late 2020 and early 2021 primaries and elections. That was a fraction of the millions of votes cast in these elections.

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