Wisconsin Election Officials Blame Bernie Sanders for Minors Illegally Voting in 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) / Getty Images
• March 24, 2017 1:21 pm


Wisconsin election officials last week in part blamed Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) failed presidential campaign for 17-year-olds illegally voting in the state's 2016 presidential primary.

A Wisconsin Elections Commission report found that up to 70 teenagers voted illegally in about 30 of the state's counties during the April primaries, the Associated Press reported. Wisconsin requires voters to be 18 to vote in its primaries.

The commission report only alluded to "some political campaigns" relaying the false message that 17-year-olds could vote, but officials last Tuesday specifically called out Sanders' campaign for being responsible through its social media outreach.

Sanders' campaign "blurred the differences" between state laws, some of which allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by Election Day to vote, according to commission chairman Mark Thomsen.

"It's your obligation to tell your campaign people and the voters what the rules are in your jurisdiction," Thomsen said.

Commission spokesman Reid Magney cited "anecdotal" information from multiple sources to back up the claim about Sanders, noting that the commission did not see anything from Sanders himself that was misleading about Wisconsin laws.

Officials also blamed undertrained poll workers for underage voters being able to cast ballots.

Sanders won the Wisconsin Democratic primary in April.

Thomsen placed the onus of responsibility for the illegal voting on Sanders, while Wisconsin's League of Women Voters chapter said poll workers and voters needed to be more educated on voting laws.

Thomsen appeared to suggest the messages from Sanders' campaign could ultimately esult in criminal prosecution for teenagers.

"You can just sit in D.C. and say here it is. I would hate to see youthful exuberance end up in criminal prosecution," he said.

Sanders' campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP.