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Judge makes scathing observation after Las Vegas man pleads guilty to voting for his dead wife

Hartle struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid serving prison time and was fined $2000 as part of the plea agreement.

Judge makes scathing observation after Las Vegas man pleads guilty to voting for his dead wife
Cover Image Source: KLAS

A Las Vegas man prominently featured by local and national Republicans as having evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election this week pleaded guilty to voting twice during the same election by mailing in his deceased wife's ballot. According to KLAS, 55-year-old Donald "Kirk" Hartle appeared virtually in court Tuesday with his attorney, David Chesnoff, and struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid serving prison time. While the original Category D felony carried a maximum prison sentence of four years, Judge Carli Kierny fined Hartle $2,000 as part of the plea agreement.


"I would like to say that I accept full responsibility for my actions and regret them, and I'm thankful for your consideration," Hartle told the judge during court proceedings. But it was Kierny's mic-drop comment to Hartle during court proceedings that landed the ultimate blow. "Ultimately to me, this seems like a cheap political stunt that kind of backfired and shows that our voting system actually works because you were ultimately caught," she said. Hartle will reportedly be able to withdraw his plea and instead plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit voting more than once in the same election — which is a misdemeanor — if stays out of trouble for a year.


The charges against Hartle came after an investigation from the Secretary of State's Office, which looks into any voter fraud allegations in connection with the Nevada Attorney General's Office. Speaking to reporters last November, Hartle revealed that his late wife, Rosemarie Hartle, had died in 2017 at age 52 from breast cancer. Although a ballot for Rosemarie was issued in October 2020 and later received by the county, he claimed the ballot never came to his house. At the time, a number of Republicans seized this case as proof that voter fraud is real.


"That is pretty sickening to me to be honest with you," Hartle said in an interview last year. "It was disbelief. It made no sense to me, but it lent some credence to what you've been hearing in the media about these possibilities and now it makes me wonder how pervasive is this?" According to MSNBC, Hartle's is not an isolated case. A Pennsylvania man named Bruce Bartman was sentenced to five years' probation after he cast an absentee ballot in support of Donald Trump for his mother, who died in 2008. Bartman pleaded guilty to unlawful voting and claimed he'd "listened to too much propaganda."


About a month later, a local Ohio Republican official named Edward Snodgrass admitted to forging his dead father's signature on an absentee ballot and then voting again as himself. He ultimately struck a deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to three days in jail and a $500 fine. Another Pennsylvania man named Robert Richard Lynn used a typewriter to complete an absentee ballot application on behalf of his deceased mother and received a sentence of six months probation. While some might see these cases as evidence that supports conspiracy theories about voter fraud, as judge Kierny pointed out, they actually prove that the existing system is strong enough to catch, charge, and convict would-be criminals who try to cheat.


"Though rare, voter fraud can undercut trust in our election system," Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement. "This particular case of voter fraud was particularly egregious because the offender continually spread inaccurate information about our elections despite being the source of fraud himself. I am glad to see Mr. Hartle being held accountable for his actions, and I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud." However, it is also worth noting that white guys like Hartle, Lynn, Snodgrass, and Bartman received incredibly lenient sentences while Crystal Mason—a Black woman—was convicted of illegal voting and sentenced to five years in prison for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 elections while on supervised release for a federal conviction. Mason did not know she was ineligible to vote, and her ballot was never counted.

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