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Jury convicts former Election Commission deputy director

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(The Center Square) – Milwaukee’s deputy director at the Election Commission in October 2022 has been found guilty of election fraud.

Wednesday’s jury decision involving Kimberly Zapata at the Milwaukee County Circuit Court could be foretelling for another involving a man in Racine. In each case, those charged requested and received ballots using fake information.

Sentencing for Zapata – guilty of a single felony count of misconduct in public office, and three misdemeanor counts of election fraud – is scheduled May 2. The penalty could mean five years in jail.

Harry Wait, in Racine, could get 13 years of prison time. He awaits trial facing two felony charges of identity theft and two misdemeanor charges of election fraud. He is accused of using the names of legislators and local officials to get absentee ballots this past July.

Prosecutors say Zapata used a work-issued laptop when successfully requesting three military absentee ballots. She then sent them to Republican state Rep. Janel Brandtjen two weeks before the gubernatorial and legislative elections.

Zapata’s defense was as a whistleblower, trying to show flaws in the system. Prosecutors said otherwise that she committed election fraud, broke the law and could have pursued other means for whatever she wanted to expose.

Unrelated, the embattled Brandtjen is facing felony charges related to campaign finance laws from the state Ethics Commission.

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