HAYWARD (WKOW) — Traffic flowing into this Northwoods destination town is nothing new in late July. Besides attracting visitors seeking a reprieve up north, Hayward also hosts the Lumberjack World Championships.
Authorities and elections officials here believe they chopped down an effort to fraudulently vote in the November presidential election. However, none of them want to discuss the ongoing case, which was filed in March.
Prosecutors allege 36-year-old Luke Aaron Frazier of Brooksville, Florida first attempted to have a ballot sent to his Florida address. According to the criminal complaint, Radisson Village Clerk Gwen Genari grew suspicious after Frazier said he was indefinitely confined when requesting an absentee ballot before later saying “that he wasn’t often at home.”
Genari declined to be interviewed for this story.
When Frazier allegedly followed up with Genari to say the ballot never arrived in Florida, he then requested it be sent to the Radisson address with which he was registered to vote in Wisconsin. Genari told investigators one of her poll workers previously lived at that address and she also knew the current owner, Rebecca Moser.
Genari questioned how Frazier would be connected to a home owned by Moser and alerted the sheriff’s office. Investigators said Moser told them Frazier was a family friend but had no permission to use her address for any purpose, including registering to vote.
When reached at the home Monday, Moser confirmed she called Frazier for investigators to question him. She also confirmed telling authorities that while he’s a family friend, she never allowed Frazier to use her address. She declined to comment further, saying she wanted nothing else to do with the case.
Sawyer County District Attorney Bruce Poquette made Moser’s account a central part of the complaint outlining the decision to charge Frazier with Election Fraud, a Class I Felony that comes with a maximum sentence of 3.5 years in prison.
Poquette did not respond to requests for an interview; an assistant said it was the policy of his office to not comment on open cases.
Court records show Frazier changed an address in June to the post office in Radisson. His listed attorney, Thomas Duffy in Hayward, declined to comment when reached by phone.
Not the first alleged fraud
Frazier has previously been accused of conning people. In 2013, he was convicted of renting out property he did not own in Hernando County, Florida.
Last summer, Frazier was accused of improperly selling a camper and told a reporter from WFLA-TV he didn’t recall the sale even though the purchaser had text message logs showing they had recently been in contact.
Frazier previously made headlines in Hernando County when he ran for county commission as a Republican, vowing that his decisions would be based on biblical teachings, according to a 2005 report from the Tampa Bay Times. Frazier later ran for sheriff as a Democrat in an effort to unseat the Republican sheriff. He lost both times.
Election fraud in context
Frazier’s case was the first election charge filed in Wisconsin in connection to the 2020 presidential election. Only one other case has been charged since; the Associated Press reports a St. Croix County man is accused of trying to cast ballots in both St. Croix and Rock counties.
Those are the only two instances of someone being charged with election fraud out of more than 3,000,000 ballots cast in Wisconsin. President Joe Biden had 20,682 more votes than former President Donald Trump following recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties.
According to a release Tuesday from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, clerks across the state have referred 373 possible cases of election fraud to district attorneys for review. It’s not clear how many of those referrals are still under review.
Before and after the election, Trump made baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin and other swing states. The former president and his legal team lost dozens of legal challenges seeking to throw out votes.
Still, a number of Wisconsin voters have reservations about how clean the election was. Mary Jo Brown-Arnold of Milwaukee was in Hayward on vacation and said she was bothered by the absentee ballot information she received in the mail last year. She said she worried people in larger cities could have requested absentee ballots meant for someone else and get away with it despite no evidence it actually happened.
“I understand the absentee ballot and I get that for certain people but to do it for everybody, for no reason, is silly,” Brown-Arnold said.
Howard Schweber, a political law professor at UW-Madison, pointed to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s tracking of voter fraud cases, noting it had found a total of 47 cases going back to 2004.
“It’s almost impossible for me to express how absurd the search for culprits in voting fraud is,” Schweber said.