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Milwaukee election official charged with fraud in court

Wisconsin-Absentee Ballots
Wong Maye-E
Poll workers sort out early and absentee ballots at the Kenosha Municipal building on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis.

The former Milwaukee Election Commission deputy director charged with fraudulently requesting military absentee ballots just days before last month’s election posted a $2,500 signature bond in her initial court appearance Friday.

Kimberly Zapata was represented by an attorney from the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm that helped former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in his taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Zapata, 45, of Milwaukee, has been out of custody since charges were filed against her early last month.

Zapata is charged with misconduct in public office, a felony, and three misdemeanor counts of making a false statement to obtain an absentee ballot. Zapata entered not guilty pleas to the misdemeanor counts.

Gableman, who now works for the Thomas More Society, argued in a separate case on the eve of the Nov. 8 midterm election that Zapata’s actions demonstrate “a vulnerability in Wisconsin’s military absentee ballot process” and that the immediate counting of military ballots should be blocked. The judge rejected that effort.

Milwaukee County Court Commissioner Maria S. Dorsey set conditions that Zapata not participate in the administration of any elections and have no contact with state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who Zapata sent the ballots to, or Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg for the duration of the court case.

Her next court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.

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