Nevada man is charged with voting using his dead wife’s ballot

An election official scanning mail-in ballots at the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas on Friday, Oct 30, 2020. Donald Kirk Hartle, a Republican, had claimed that someone voted in the 2020 election by using the mail-in ballot of his wife, who died in 2017. He now faces two counts of voter fraud. Bridget Bennett/The New York Times
Speaking to a local news station in November, Donald Kirk Hartle described being “surprised” by the possibility that someone had stolen his dead wife’s mail-in ballot and used it to vote in the 2020 election. “That is pretty sickening to me, to be honest with you,” he told KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.

But this week, the Nevada attorney general filed two charges of voter fraud against Hartle, 55, claiming that he was the one who forged his wife’s signature to vote with her ballot.

“Voter fraud is rare, but when it happens, it undercuts trust in our election system and will not be tolerated by my office,” Aaron D Ford, the attorney general, said in a statement Thursday. “I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud and will work to bring any offenders to justice.”

The announcement from Ford’s office comes months after waves of Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, falsely asserted that the 2020 election had been tainted by widespread voter fraud, including in Nevada, a state that Trump lost.

Hartle, a registered Republican, was charged with voting using the name of another person and voting more than once in the same election, the attorney general’s office said in the statement. Each charge carries a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000, prosecutors said.

The criminal complaint did not explain how prosecutors came to the conclusion that Hartle had committed voter fraud. Questions sent to the office of Ford, a Democrat elected to the position in 2018, were not immediately responded to Saturday.

Hartle is scheduled to appear on Nov 18 in the Las Vegas Township Justice Court.

Last year on Twitter, the Nevada Republican Party cited Hartle’s story as evidence of voting irregularities, saying that Hartle “was surprised to find that his late wife Rosemarie, a Republican, cast a ballot in this year's election despite having passed away” in 2017.

Since the announcement of the charges against Hartle, the party has not corrected the record, said Callum Ingram, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.

©2021 The New York Times Company