Wisconsin Rapids mayor accused of election fraud - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin Rapids mayor accused of election fraud

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -- The Wisconsin Rapids mayor is in hot water over a Facebook post that could have him facing a felony.

A candidate for Wisconsin Rapids City Council has filed a complaint against Mayor Zach Vruwink with the Wood County district attorney.

But the mayor says he's sorry and that he's learned his lesson.

This all stems from last month's primary election in which Vruwink advanced to the general election. On that day, a post was made on the mayor's Facebook page, showing a picture of a voting ballot and a voter number. Above it was written, “Vote cast, now bring on the results!” Anyone who clicked on that post could then see the two pictures individually, including the one showing a ballot marked for Zach Vruwink.

But that's against the law. According to the state statute, anyone who “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” has committed election fraud.

We can't allow small things like this to continue to happen,” said Steve Abrahamson, the city council candidate who filed the complaint. “We need to be watching what our elected officials are doing.”

Mayor Vruwink tells Newsline 9 he wasn't aware of the state statute against posting his ballot online.

"It certainly was not the right thing to do and certainly now know why we need to raise awareness about the need for people not to take photos and post that sort of thing online,” said Vruwink.

But he says he's not surprised Abrahamson filed the complaint.

"Unfortunately, Steve is known for these sorts of tactics," said Vruwink.

"He's wrong," responded Abrahamson when told of the mayor's comment.

Regardless, Vruwink says he's learned his lesson.

"I subsequently removed the post, contacted the Government Accountability Board to indicate to them that the post had been removed. I was not aware of the law indicating that that was not allowed," he said.

Wood County District Attorney Craig Lambert tells Newsline 9 he has received the complaint and is reviewing it. Posting a marked voting ballot for people to see qualifies as a Class I felony, according to the Government Accountability Board.

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