Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

The Elections Commission has unanimously voted to deny four Assembly candidates ballot access after challenges to their signatures were brought forward to the agency.

One of the candidates knocked off the ballot yesterday was Democrat Charisse Daniels, who was looking to challenge GOP incumbent John Jagler in the 37th AD.

A GOP-filed complaint accused Daniels of fraudulently obtaining some of the signatures on her papers. The Watertown Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the matter, and commissioners today met in closed session to consider a request from the GOP to investigate Daniels for election fraud, which is a felony.

The commission’s deliberations are confidential, but commission chair Dean Knudson told reporters the commission will make an announcement if members choose to take further action, such as forward the case to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office.

After a review, commission staff found the state GOP logged “clear and convincing” evidence of problems with several of Daniels’ signatures.

Two hundred signatures are required for Daniels to maintain ballot access; she originally turned in 201.

The state GOP alleged 40 signatures should be discounted because they were illegally obtained and that three should be disqualified because they were duplicate signatures.

In its complaint, the GOP provided 15 affidavits from individuals claiming they did not sign Daniels’ nomination papers. Jagler, of Watertown, assisted in gathering those affidavits and will run unopposed in the fall with the commission’s decision.

He called the whole process “emotional,” especially the reaction he got after approaching people whose names the complaint said were fraudulently included on Daniels’ nomination papers.

“Showing people their names, that was the most difficult part, telling people their names were forged,” Jagler said.

Daniels submitted correcting affidavits, bringing her total signatures up to 223, but a review by the commission only certified 193. Staff therefore recommended sustaining the challenge and denying Daniels ballot access.

The commission also unanimously voted to deny ballot access to Jim Duncan, a Republican who filed to run in the 57th AD; Maria Villarreal, a Dem who filed to run in the 8th AD; and Thomas Leager, who filed to run as a Libertarian in the 76th AD.

The decision leaves Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, without a primary opponent and Dem Reps. Amanda Stuck of Appleton and Chris Taylor of Madison without general election opponents.

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