Wisconsin lawmakers sued to stop immediate military vote counting

MADISON, Wisconsin — A Wisconsin lawmaker who frequently promotes false election claims is suing to prevent her state’s military votes from being counted immediately after she received three ballots under a false name.

The lawsuit filed Friday was brought by a veterans group and three people, including the House of Representatives. Janel Brandtjen (R), Chair of the State Legislative Elections Committee.

Last week, Brandtjen received three pseudonymous military ballots allegedly sent to her by Milwaukee election official Kimberly Zapata. Election officials criticized Brandtjen for spreading false claims about the system, and Zapata later told prosecutors that she was trying to alert Brandtjen that there was an actual weakness in the state’s voting system that should be addressed.

Unlike most states, Wisconsin allows military members to vote without having to register to vote or provide proof of residency. Military votes make up a tiny fraction of the Wisconsin ballot — about 1,400 so far in Tuesday’s election.

Brandtjen and others are using the incident to argue that military ballots should not be counted unless election officials can show they complied with state laws that require them to keep lists of all eligible military voters.

Brandtjen’s attorney, Erick Kaardal of the conservative Thomas More Society, said state officials handled the election in a manner “facilitating ballot fraud.”

Will Attig, director of the Joint Veterans Commission, expressed alarm at attempts to block the counting of military votes.

“These are the soldiers who are defending our country, and they have the right to vote, and they vote by mail,” he said. “It seems to me that we have a plan orchestrated by election deniers who don’t really support our democracy.”

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