No person may personally or through an agent, by abduction, duress, or any fraudulent device or contrivance, impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise at an election.
No person may personally or through an agent, by any act compel, induce, or prevail upon an elector either to vote or refrain from voting at any election for or against a particular candidate or referendum.
Election bribery. 12.11(1)(1)
In this section, “anything of value" includes any amount of money, or any object which has utility independent of any political message it contains and the value of which exceeds $1. The prohibitions of this section apply to the distribution of material printed at public expense and available for free distribution if such materials are accompanied by a political message.
Any person who does any of the following violates this chapter:
Offers, gives, lends or promises to give or lend, or endeavors to procure, anything of value, or any office or employment or any privilege or immunity to, or for, any elector, or to or for any other person, in order to induce any elector to:
Vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular person.
Vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular referendum; or on account of any elector having done any of the above.
Receives, agrees or contracts to receive or accept any money, gift, loan, valuable consideration, office or employment personally or for any other person, in consideration that the person or any elector will, so act or has so acted.
Advances, pays or causes to be paid any money to or for the use of any person with the intent that such money or any part thereof will be used to bribe electors at any election.
This section applies to any convention or meeting held for the purpose of nominating any candidate for any election, and to the signing of any nomination paper.
This section does not prohibit a candidate from publicly stating his or her preference for or support of any other candidate for any office to be voted for at the same election. A candidate for an office in which the person elected is charged with the duty of participating in the election or nomination of any person as a candidate for office is not prohibited from publicly stating or pledging his or her preference for or support of any person for such office or nomination.
This section does not apply to money paid or agreed to be paid for or on account of authorized legal expenses which were legitimately incurred at or concerning any election.
This section does not apply where an employer agrees that all or part of election day be given to its employees as a paid holiday, provided that such policy is made uniformly applicable to all similarly situated employees.
This section does not prohibit any person from using his or her own vehicle to transport electors to or from the polls without charge.
This section does not apply to any promise by a candidate to reduce public expenditures or taxes.
There are constitutional limits on the state's power to prohibit candidates from making promises in the course of an election campaign. Some promises are universally acknowledged as legitimate, indeed indispensable to decisionmaking in a democracy. Brown v. Hartlage, 456 U.S. 45
Election fraud. 12.13(1)(1)
Whoever intentionally does any of the following violates this chapter:
Votes at any election or meeting if that person does not have the necessary elector qualifications and residence requirements.
Falsely procures registration or makes false statements to the municipal clerk, board of election commissioners or any other election official whether or not under oath.
Registers as an elector in more than one place for the same election.
Impersonates a registered elector or poses as another person for the purpose of voting at an election.
Votes more than once in the same election.
Shows his or her marked ballot to any person or places a mark upon the ballot so it is identifiable as his or her ballot.
Procures an official ballot and neglects or refuses to cast or return it. This paragraph does not apply to persons who have applied for and received absentee ballots.
Procures, assists or advises someone to do any of the acts prohibited by this subsection.
The willful neglect or refusal by an election official to perform any of the duties prescribed under chs. 5
is a violation of this chapter.
Observe how an elector has marked a ballot unless the official is requested to assist the elector; intentionally permit anyone not authorized to assist in the marking of a ballot to observe how a person is voting or has voted; or disclose to anyone how an elector voted other than as is necessary in the course of judicial proceedings.
Illegally issue, write, change or alter a ballot on election day.
Permit registration or receipt of a vote from a person who the official knows is not a legally qualified elector or who has refused after being challenged to make the oath or to properly answer the necessary questions pertaining to the requisite requirements and residence; or put into the ballot box a ballot other than the official's own or other one lawfully received.
Intentionally assist or cause to be made a false statement, canvass, certificate or return of the votes cast at any election.
Willfully alter or destroy a poll or registration list.
Intentionally permit or cause a voting machine, voting device or automatic tabulating equipment to fail to correctly register or record a vote cast thereon or inserted therein, or tamper with or disarrange the machine, device or equipment or any part or appliance thereof; cause or consent to the machine, device or automatic tabulating equipment being used for voting at an election with knowledge that it is out of order or is not perfectly set and adjusted so that it will correctly register or record all votes cast thereon or inserted therein; with the purpose of defrauding or deceiving any elector, cause doubt for what party, candidate or proposition a vote will be cast or cause the vote for one party, candidate or proposition to be cast so it appears to be cast for another; or remove, change or mutilate a ballot on a voting machine, device or a ballot to be inserted into automatic tabulating equipment, or do any similar act contrary to chs. 5
Obtain an absentee ballot for voting in a qualified retirement home or residential care facility under s. 6.875 (6)
and fail to return the ballot to the issuing officer.
In the course of the person's official duties or on account of the person's official position, intentionally violate or intentionally cause any other person to violate any provision of chs. 5
for which no other penalty is expressly prescribed.
Intentionally disclose the name or address of any elector who obtains a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
to any person who is not authorized by law to obtain that information.
(3) Prohibited acts.
No person may:
Falsify any information in respect to or fraudulently deface or destroy a certificate of nomination, nomination paper, declaration of candidacy or petition for an election, including a recall petition or petition for a referendum; or file or receive for filing a certificate of nomination, nomination paper, declaration of candidacy or any such petition, knowing any part is falsely made.
Fail to file an amended declaration of candidacy as provided in s. 8.21
with respect to a change in information filed in an original declaration within 3 days of the time the amended declaration becomes due for filing; or file a false declaration of candidacy or amended declaration of candidacy. This paragraph applies only to candidates for state or local office.
Wrongfully suppress, neglect or fail to file nomination papers in the person's possession at the proper time and in the proper office; suppress a certificate of nomination which is duly filed.
Willfully or negligently fail to deliver, after having undertaken to do so, official ballots prepared for an election to the proper person, or prevent their delivery within the required time, or destroy or conceal the ballots.
Remove or destroy any of the supplies or conveniences placed in compartments or polling booths.
Prepare or cause to be prepared an official ballot with intent to change the result of the election as to any candidate or referendum; prepare an official ballot which is premarked or which has an unauthorized sticker affixed prior to delivery to an elector; or deliver to an elector an official ballot bearing a mark opposite the name of a candidate or referendum question that might be counted as a vote for or against a candidate or question.
Before or during any election, tamper with voting machines, voting devices or automatic tabulating equipment readied for voting or the counting of votes; disarrange, deface, injure or impair any such machine, device or equipment; or mutilate, injure or destroy a ballot placed or displayed on a voting machine or device, or to be placed or displayed on any such machine, device or automatic tabulating equipment or any other appliance used in connection with the machine, device or equipment.
Falsify any statement relating to voter registration under chs. 5
Deface, destroy or remove any legally placed election campaign advertising poster with intent to disrupt the campaign advertising efforts of any committee registered under ch. 11
, or alter the information printed thereon so as to change the meaning thereof to the disadvantage of the candidate or cause espoused. Nothing in this paragraph restricts the right of any owner or occupant of any real property, or the owner or operator of any motor vehicle, to remove campaign advertising posters from such property or vehicle.
Falsely make any statement for the purpose of obtaining or voting an absentee ballot under ss. 6.85
When called upon to assist an elector who cannot read or write, has difficulty in reading, writing or understanding English, or is unable to mark a ballot or depress a lever or button on a voting machine, inform the elector that a ballot contains names or words different than are printed or displayed on the ballot with the intent of inducing the elector to vote contrary to his or her inclination, intentionally fail to cast a vote in accordance with the elector's instructions or reveal the elector's vote to any 3rd person.
Forge or falsely make the official endorsement on a ballot or knowingly deposit a ballot in the ballot box upon which the names or initials of the ballot clerks, or those of issuing clerks do not appear.
When not authorized, during or after an election, break open or violate the seals or locks on a ballot box containing ballots of that election or obtain unlawful possession of a ballot box with official ballots; conceal, withhold or destroy ballots or ballot boxes; willfully, fraudulently or forcibly add to or diminish the number of ballots legally deposited in a ballot box; or aid or abet any person in doing any of the acts prohibited by this paragraph.
Fraudulently change a ballot of an elector so the elector is prevented from voting for whom the elector intended.
Receive a ballot from or give a ballot to a person other than the election official in charge.
Vote or offer to vote a ballot except as has been received from one of the inspectors.
Receive a completed ballot from a voter unless qualified to do so.
Solicit a person to show how his or her vote is cast.
Remove a ballot from a polling place before the polls are closed.
Solicit another elector to offer assistance under s. 6.82 (2)
or 6.87 (5)
, except in the case of an elector who is blind or visually impaired to the extent that the elector cannot read a ballot.
Obtain an absentee ballot as the agent of another elector under s. 6.86 (3)
and fail or refuse to deliver it to such elector.
Provide false documentation of identity for the purpose of inducing an election official to permit the person or another person to vote.
Refuse to obey a lawful order of an inspector made for the purpose of enforcing the election laws; engage in disorderly behavior at or near a polling place; or interrupt or disturb the voting or canvassing proceedings.
After an election, break the locks or seals or reset the counters on a voting machine except in the course of official duties carried out at the time and in the manner prescribed by law; or disable a voting machine so as to prevent an accurate count of the votes from being obtained; or open the registering or recording compartments of a machine with intent to do any such act.
Tamper with automatic tabulating equipment or any record of votes cast or computer program which is to be used in connection with such equipment to count or recount votes at any election so as to prevent or attempt to prevent an accurate count of the votes from being obtained.
Compensate a person who obtains voter registration forms from other persons at a rate that varies in relation to the number of voter registrations obtained by the person.
Willfully provide to a municipal clerk false information for the purpose of obtaining a confidential listing under s. 6.47 (2)
for that person or another person.
Disclose to any person information provided under s. 6.47 (8)
when not authorized to do so.
(5) Unauthorized release of records or investigatory information. 12.13(5)(a)(a)
Except as specifically authorized by law and except as provided in par. (b)
, no investigator, prosecutor, employee of an investigator or prosecutor, or member or employee of the commission may disclose information related to an investigation or prosecution under chs. 5
, or any other law specified in s. 978.05 (1)
or provide access to any record of the investigator, prosecutor, or the commission that is not subject to access under s. 5.05 (5s)
to any person other than an employee or agent of the prosecutor or investigator or a member, employee, or agent of the commission prior to presenting the information or record in a court of law.
This subsection does not apply to any of the following communications made by an investigator, prosecutor, employee of an investigator or prosecutor, or member or employee of the commission:
Communications made in the normal course of an investigation or prosecution.
Communications with a local, state, or federal law enforcement or prosecutorial authority.
Communications made to the attorney of an investigator, prosecutor, employee, or member of the commission or to a person or the attorney of a person who is investigated or prosecuted by the commission.
History: 1973 c. 334
; 1975 c. 85
; 1977 c. 427
; 1979 c. 89
; 1983 a. 183
; 1983 a. 192
; 1983 a. 484
, 172 (3)
; 1983 a. 491
; 1985 a. 304
; 1987 a. 391
; 1989 a. 192
; 1991 a. 316
; 1999 a. 49
; 2001 a. 16
; 2003 a. 265
; 2005 a. 451
; 2007 a. 1
; 2011 a. 23
; 2013 a. 159
; 2015 a. 117
; 2015 a. 118
, 266 (10)
Sub. (5) does not apply to district attorneys or law enforcement agencies. It only applies to the government accountability board, its employees and agents, and the investigators and prosecutors retained by the board, and the assistants to those persons. OAG 7-09
Whoever violates s. 12.03
or 12.13 (2) (b) 8.
, (3) (b)
may be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than 6 months or both.
Whoever violates s. 12.13 (5)
may be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 9 months or both.