Ex-Milwaukee Election Official Convicted of Misconduct and Fraud

A probationary term of one year and a fine of $3,000 were handed down Thursday, May 2nd, to a former Milwaukee elections official found guilty of official misconduct and fraud for procuring fraudulent absentee votes.  Additionally,  Kimberly Zapata (47) was directed to do community service.

In November 2022, the prosecution charged Zapata with 3 misdemeanor charges of election fraud and 1 count of felony misbehavior in public office. In March, a jury returned a guilty verdict on all four charges.

According to a criminal complaint, Zapata was an employee of the state’s Election Commission when she obtained three military absentee votes using fictitious identities and Social Security numbers in October 2022 using her work-issued laptop. Two weeks before the state’s legislative and gubernatorial elections, she submitted the ballots to Republican state representative Janel Brandtjen. She was terminated once authorities found out about her behavior.

Wisconsin does not require active military people to fill out a voter registration form or submit picture identification to acquire absentee votes. Zapata claimed to investigators that she allegedly wanted to divert the focus of ‘election conspiracy theorists’ from the death threats that commission employees had been getting to the actual problems with the system.

Judge Kori Ashley of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court said to Zapata before sentencing her that there were better ways to make her case than violating the law, rejecting her lawyers’ claim that their client was working as a whistleblower.

Before her sentencing, Zapata expressed remorse for her acts, which she said were the result of a total mental breakdown. She claimed that her struggles with emotion regulation, sensory processing, and cognitive processing are symptoms of her autistic spectrum disease.

There is a potential jail term of three and a half years for the felony offense and a potential six-month penalty for each misdemeanor offense.

According to Matthew Westphal, an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee, Zapata’s behavior undermined public faith in our democratic system, which is essential for its proper functioning.

According to Westphal, there was a violent uprising and accusations of fraud in elections in the nation’s capital (referring to J6). Here on the spectrum, that’s the type of behavior we have. When individuals are not doing their jobs properly and spreading misleading information, we reach that point.