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Wisconsin activist who ordered absentee ballots in others’ names charged with election fraud, ID theft

MADISON, Wis. Prosecutors charged a Wisconsin man Thursday with election fraud and identity theft after he acknowledged he fraudulently requested absentee ballots in what he says was an attempt to expose vulnerabilities in the us election system.

Hawaii Department of Justice charged 68-year-old Harry Wait with two misdemeanor counts of election fraud and two felony counts of identity theft. He’d confront 13 years behind bars if convicted on all counts.

Wait told The Associated Press in a telephone interview he wasnt surprised he was charged.

You have to expect to cover some costs sometimes if you are trying to work with the general public good, he said. You cant always stay static in the safe zone.

The charges mark another bizarre chapter in a seemingly endless fight over election administration in Wisconsin, an integral battleground state because the 2024 presidential election approaches.

The battle began after Joe Biden won hawaii in 2020, defeating former President Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes. Trump has refused to simply accept losing, insisting the election was marred by fraud. Multiple reviews and court decisions have upheld Bidens victory, but Trumps supporters have spent the months since promoting his baseless claims that Biden somehow stole the election.

Wait publicly acknowledged in July he visited the states MyVote Wisconsin website and ordered absentee ballots in the name of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Racine Mayor Cory Mason and many other folks by entering their private information. He said he asked that the ballots be sent to his home.

He saidthen told Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling in what hed done and said he was attempting to show the website is susceptible to fraud.

In accordance with a criminal complaint, the Wisconsin Elections Commission notified hawaii Justice Department on July 28 of eight possibly fraudulent absentee ballot requests made through MyVote Wisconsin. Investigators discovered a letter that Harry Wait posted on the H.O.T. Government website. The group promotes honest, open and transparent government; Wait may be the groups president.

Wait said in the letter he had opted online and successfully ordered ballots in the name of at the very least two other folks and had the ballots shipped to his address. The complaint identified those individuals only as Individual 1 and Indvidual 2.

Wait continued to say he previously obtained permission from others round the state to pose as them and order their ballots shipped to his address.

I stand prepared to be charged for exposing these voting vulnerabilities when I ordered (Individual 2)s and (Individual 1)s absentee ballot online, Wait wrote, based on the complaint.

Investigators also found a video of a July 28 podcast where Wait admitted he had ordered ballots for both visitors to be delivered to his address and also ballots for others making use of their permission. He said he likely to be arrested and needed others to request absentee ballots in others names and also have them delivered to state officials.

Justice Department agents interviewed Wait on Aug. 24, based on the complaint. He told them he requested the ballots for individual 1 and 2 on July 26 while he was at the H.O.T. Government booth at the Racine County Fair and didn’t have their permission. He said he knew he was committing a crime and would repeat, based on the complaint.

Wait is because of make a short court appearance on Sept. 8.

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