MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced on Thursday, Nov. 3 that Kimberly Zapata, deputy director of the Milwaukee Election Commission has been terminated.
Mayor Johnson noted during a press conference outside of his office that Zapata was stripped of her duties due after a major issue came to his attention immediately, noting he was “stunned” about the “very serious allegations against her.” She allegedly accessed fictitious military absentee ballots and sent them to state Rep. Janel Brandtjen.
“I will not accept, I will not tolerate, and I certainly will not defend any misrepresentation by a city official involved in elections,” said Johnson.
The Waukesha County Sherriff’s Department was made aware that Rep. Brandtjen received three military ballots at her home on Oct. 28. She issued a press release, saying that the ballots were addressed to “Holly” with three different last names, none of which have ever resided at her address.
Rep. Brandtjen said in the Oct. 31 release, “I believe someone was trying to point out how easy it is to get military ballots in Wisconsin. Registration for military ballots is not required, so a fictitious name and birthdate is all that is required to obtain a military ballot online.” Adding, “I think it’s sad that people feel they have to break the law to get the attention of the legislature.”
The unopened bundles were delivered to the Waukesha County Sheriff after that.
While the incident allegedly was intended to expose a vulnerability in the system and did not take place while she was working, Mayor Johnson said it is an “egregious” violation of trust.
He also noted, “Folks should have confidence in our elections,” adding, “This particular person was immediately terminated.”
The mayor said that City of Milwaukee ballots were not a part of the incident, nor were there attempts to tamper with election results or to vote illegally.
This is the second time an individual has attempted to expose vulnerabilities in Wisconsin’s MyVote system, which is used to request absentee ballots. In July, Harry Wait, Racine County man, openly admitted to illegally requesting absentee ballots for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason. Wait was charged by the Wisconsin Department of Justice on two counts of election fraud and two counts for use of another’s personal information. Wait recently pleaded not guilty in the ongoing court case.
Below is the full statement from the mayor’s office: