In 2015, Mark Wake was in a serious motorcycle crash that put him in the hospital for 10 months with a severe brain injury.
“I lost half my head,” he told Wisconsin Watch.
He also lost his voting rights when a Dane County judge placed him under a temporary guardianship.
The county’s register in probate sent that information to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which added Wake’s name and Madison address to a list that contains more than 22,000 who have been “adjudicated incompetent” to vote in Wisconsin. The system is designed to protect mentally incapacitated people from having someone else fill out their ballot.
After Wake recovered, he said the guardianship was lifted, although no court records show his voting rights were restored — an additional step he apparently didn’t take at the time.
But in 2018, despite still being on the statewide ineligible voter list, Wake registered and voted in Poynette, a small Columbia County village where his name was not on the local ineligible voters list. In the 2020 presidential election, he voted again, this time in Madison as a previously registered voter.
Wake is one of 95 people in Dane County who altogether cast more than 300 ballots in past elections despite being on the state’s list of people deemed incompetent to vote, according to a county clerk’s office review of more than 1,000 records from the state’s list. The state elections agency is reviewing all 22,733 entries to ensure the list is accurate, spokesperson Joel DeSpain said.
“The ongoing review of this important topic involves multiple agencies and entities, each with different pieces at play,” DeSpain said. “Our goal is to be able to provide clean and complete statewide data.”
The number of confirmed cases of people voting after losing their voting rights is far more than previously known — and could mean there are hundreds more around the state. But the number is small compared with the millions of votes cast in statewide elections — and not enough to alter past results as former President Donald Trump and others have claimed.
The cases, however, point to a larger issue that election officials say requires a legislative fix: Unlike many other states, Wisconsin does not have a statutorily defined system for tracking people whom a judge rules are mentally incompetent to vote. In Wisconsin, some, but not all, counties notify state elections officials when a person is found incompetent to vote, DeSpain said.
“Activist group led by Ginni Thomas received nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations”
A little-known conservative activist group led by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, collected nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to wage a cultural battle against the left over three years, a Washington Post investigation found.
The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews. The arrangement, known as a “fiscal sponsorship,” effectively shielded from public view details about Crowdsourcers’ activities and spending, information it would have had to disclose publicly if it operated as a separate nonprofit organization, experts said.
The Post’s investigation sheds new light on the role money from donors who are not publicly identified has played in supporting Ginni Thomas’s political advocacy, long a source of controversy. The funding is the first example of anonymous donors backing her activism since she founded a conservative charity more than a decade ago. She stepped away from that charity amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court….
Thomas said partners in the effort included Cleta Mitchell, chair of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a nonprofit that submits amicus briefs to the Supreme Court in election law cases. Mitchell planned to establish a political action committee to “protect President [Donald] Trump,”according to a slide Thomas displayed during the closed-door meeting. James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas — known for hidden-camera stings that aim to embarrass liberals — would lead an effort to “protect our heroes,” she said. And Richard Viguerie, a pioneer in conservative direct-mail campaigns, would head up an effort to “brand the left,” she said.
Mitchell said in a brief phone interview that she did not know anything about Crowdsourcers and that nothing ever came of the political action committee.
“Ginni has asked me over the years to do a lot of different things,” she said. “I always try to respond.”
“Costly Court Race Points to a Politicized Future for Judicial Elections”
It is a judicial election like no other in American history.
Thirty million dollars and counting has poured into the campaign for a swing seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, with TV ads swamping the airwaves. The candidates leave no illusions that they would be neutral on the court. And the race will decide not only the future of abortion rights in Wisconsin, but the battleground state’s political direction.
Yet in other ways, the contest resembles an obscure local election: There are no bus tours or big rallies. Out-of-state political stars are nowhere to be found. Retail politicking is limited to small gatherings at bars that are not advertised to the public in advance.
The result is a campaign — officially nonpartisan but positively awash in partisanship — that swirls together the old and new ways of judicial politics in America, and that offers a preview of what might be to come. It is the latest evidence, after the contentious recent confirmation battles and pitched decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court, that judges increasingly viewed as political are starting to openly act political as well.
Officials in both parties believe the Wisconsin race could lead to a sea change in how State Supreme Court races are contested in the 21 other states where high court justices are elected, injecting never-before-seen amounts of money, politicization and voter interest.
“How Election Deniers Are Making Voter Fraud Easier; A cloud of misinformation has led a half-dozen states to abandon the most powerful tool available to combat voter fraud across state lines.”
Alan Greenblatt for Governing.
“US Supreme Court won’t review GOP’s Kansas congressional map”
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t review a congressional redistricting law enacted by the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature that some voters and Democrats saw as political gerrymandering.
The nation’s highest court said Monday without explaination that it won’t hear an appeal of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling from May 2022 that partisan gerrymandering does not violate the state constitution. Eleven voters had challenged the redistricting law.
“Trump extends election-rigging myth to his potential criminal charges”
Former president Donald Trump opened the first mega-rally of his 2024 campaign by playing a recording of the national anthem sung by inmates charged in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In the 90-minute remarks that followed on Saturday, Trump repeatedly emphasized — even more than in last year’s rallies for the midterms — his false insistence that the 2020 election was stolen from him. But he added a new twist: that his political opponents were now bent on rigging the next election against him through the prospect of criminal charges.
“This is their new form of trying to beat people at the polls,” Trump elaborated to reporters on his flight home from the rally, according to a recording obtained by The Washington Post. “This is worse than stuffing the ballot boxes, which they did.”
Saturday’s speech by the early polling leader for the Republican nomination shows how Trump is seeking to adapt the stolen election myth, continually absorbing new allegations when old ones are debunked or obsolete — from supposed foreign plots to tamper with voting machines to alleged manipulation of social media and now potential prosecution. The latest version also underscores Trump’s continued determination to elevate conspiracy theories with inflammatory rhetoric that has already inspired violence by his supporters, which he continues to downplay or defend.