Brown County election officials are investigating several instances of voter fraud in Tuesday’s primary elections. In all six cases, the voters were too young to cast a ballot. County clerk Sandy Juno says six 17-year-old students registered and voted on Tuesday. Three were in DePere, and three were in other villages in the county. None was in Green Bay. The Government Accountability Board is investigating several other instances from around the state.
This was the first major election where Wisconsin’s new voter ID law was in place. Despite five of the students presenting a valid ID, Juno says poll workers never looked at the date of birth on them or on the registration forms they filled out. In one case in DePere, the student used a report card as identification.
“There was a lot of bad information that was out there and some of the poll workers who were faced with this information didn’t stop it,” Juno says.
Juno says the students may have actually believed it was okay to vote. She says some states allow 17-year-olds to participate in caucuses, and she says that may be why there was confusion. She says the G.A.B. found the same confusion around the state.
“They felt a lot of it started with social media,” Juno says. “Some of my fellow clerks in other counties had gotten some information that there were some teachers that were telling 17-year-olds that they could vote if they would be 18 by November 8th. “
The matter has been referred to the G.A.B. and to Brown County’s district attorney and sheriff department. Voter fraud is a class one felony. It’s not yet known whether the students or the poll workers could face some sort of discipline or criminal charges.
Juno says it’s impossible to know who each of the students voted for, but she says none of the outcomes of any races was affected.
“Certainly we want to take a look at the situation and investigate what happened to prevent it from happening in future elections,” Juno says. “If it’s not addressed by the fall elections, we could very easiliy be dealing with this type of situation again.”