Wednesday, December 13, 2017

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Eau Claire woman charged with vote fraud

As felon under supervision by state, it was illegal to vote in Nov. 8 elections

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A 36-year-old Eau Claire woman who voted in the Nov. 8 presidential election is accused of election fraud by providing false information to an election official.

Jamie L. Sammons, 608 Plum St., was charged with the felony this week in Eau Claire County Court.

Donna Austad, Eau Claire’s former longtime city clerk, reported that Sammons appeared at the city’s 4th Ward voting site Nov. 8, completed and signed a voter registration form, and provided an Eau Claire County real estate tax bill as proof of residence.

The voter registration form Sammons signed states, “I hereby certify … I am not currently serving a sentence including incarceration, parole, probation or extended supervision for a felony conviction, and not otherwise disqualified from voting.”

While entering data from the Election Day voter registration forms, the city election office received information via the state voter registration program that Sammons was a convicted felon, said Austad, who retired earlier this year, and the state Elections Commission was contacted.

The commission verified with the state Department of Corrections that Sammons was a convicted felon still under DOC supervision until June 18, 2017.

According to online court records, Sammons was convicted in Sauk County for possession of narcotic drugs, second and subsequent offense, and operating with a restricted controlled substance on June 18, 2015. Her sentence included 50 days in jail and 24 months of probation.

In Wisconsin, a person with an ongoing felony sentence loses the right to vote until he or she completes the sentence and is discharged from supervision by the DOC.

In her election fraud case, Sammons is scheduled to make her initial court appearance Dec. 21.

State statutes contain several measures to ensure that persons who have lost their voting rights do not cast ballots, and if they do vote, that they are identified and prosecuted, according to the Elections Commission website.

In addition, statutes require the commission to conduct an audit after each election to determine whether any ineligible felons registered on Election Day or within 20 days before an election and cast a ballot illegally, the website states.

If an audit determines that an individual with an ongoing felony sentence may have voted, statutes require the Elections Commission to notify the district attorney in the county where the vote occurred.

“Sometimes someone slips through the cracks,” Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said.

In mid-July state officials referred 79 individuals to district attorneys in 28 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, according to information provided by Magney. In west-central Wisconsin, the names of three people — one each in Buffalo, Eau Claire and St. Croix counties — were referred.

Referrals don’t always result in charges, Magney said. It’s up to district attorney’s offices or law enforcement agencies to investigate all information before charges are filed.

“I would say felon voting is by far the largest category of voter fraud, election fraud in Wisconsin,” Magney said. “It far outnumbers double voting, things like that.”

Contact: 715-830-5838, christena.obrien@ecpc.com, @CTOBrien on Twitter

 


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