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"We have an obligation to make certain our election system is fair and legal."
District Attorneys and the Attorney General Teaming Up to Better Track, Handle, and Prosecute Matters of Election Integrity
GREEN BAY - Efforts to continue to better assure election integrity expanded across Wisconsin today with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's announcement that District Attorneys in eleven other Wisconsin counties have joined him to address and respond to election integrity issues.
This expanded multijurisdictional action team follows the successful partnership in Milwaukee County and its District Attorney John Chisholm to form the Milwaukee Elections Fraud Task Force. The expanded Task Force will continue to develop and share information, resources, tactics and strategy regarding matters involving election integrity and the enforcement of Wisconsins elections laws.
District Attorneys joining this effort today are:
Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard
La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke
Marathon County District Attorney Ken Heimerman
Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes
Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider
Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel
Washington County District Attorney Todd Martens
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco
Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett
Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf
"Thanks to my colleagues in law enforcement for their commitment to election integrity across Wisconsin. Nothing is more fundamental in our democracy than the right to vote. Our expanded efforts will better ensure voter confidence and will address issues related to election integrity," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "This builds on our successful efforts in Milwaukee while reinforcing our roles and partnerships. Elections are undermined when people engage in unlawful voting or otherwise commit fraud on the elections process. We have an obligation to make certain our election system is fair and legal," he concluded.
Joining Attorney General Van Hollen in Green Bay today, Brown County District Attorney John Zakowski stated, "Unfortunately we all have seen instances of voter fraud. It is important to take meaningful steps to address this increasingly important issue."
The Elections Integrity Task Force reinforces well established state and local cooperation. "Law enforcement that works together works better," said Van Hollen. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice and district attorneys have a long history of cooperation and communication about matters of statewide concern and how best to work together. The Elections Integrity Task Force manifests this cooperation and will benefit all jurisdictions statewide. This expanded effort is modeled on our successful partnership with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. By leveraging expertise and resources, this Task Force will greater assist law enforcement in the handling of election-related issues," said Van Hollen.
Members of the Task Force will work cooperatively to identify issues of common concern affecting election integrity. The Task Force will work on developing some common solutions and approaches to these issues and develop investigative and prosecution strategies. The information developed by the Task Force will be shared with its members and be made available to all law enforcement officials and district attorneys across the state. Some of these issues include felon voting, double voting, voter registration problems, and campaign fundraising.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice will act as a clearinghouse for information, which will be made available for all prosecutors. The Task Force will also act as a forum to discuss issues and problems and develop possible investigative and prosecutorial procedure and responses. The Task Force will also develop guides and resource materials for law enforcement, prosecutors and local officials. While local law enforcement and district attorneys would remain the primary source for the intake of complaints, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will also make available investigative and prosecution assistance as may be deemed necessary in individual cases.
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel stated, "As long as Wisconsin fails to enact voter identification and DAs offices remain short-staffed, prosecutors will be hampered in their efforts to ensure that election laws are enforced. Therefore, it is critically important that we collaborate to share our experience and develop successful strategies."
Judge-elect Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard stated "I am recommending to my successor, Ismael Ozanne that, as Dane County District Attorney beginning in August, he continue to participate in these information sharing and collaborative efforts. Wisconsin has strong laws intended to ensure open and fair campaigns and elections, but those laws are a dead letter if local prosecutors, the Government Accountability Board, and the state Department of Justice do not cooperate in a nonpartisan, professional way to enforce the laws. At the same time, this joint project does not interfere with the exclusive authority of each countys elected district attorney to exercise discretion in individual cases that fall within his or her authority."