A Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to casting a vote in the name of his deceased mother in an effort to reelect then-President Donald Trump, according to court records and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer’s office.
Bruce Bartman, 70, received the sentence Friday after entering a guilty plea to two counts of perjury and one count of unlawful voting. Bartman will also lose his right to vote for four years, pursuant to Pennsylvania statute, the district attorney’s office said in a news release.
Voter records show that Bartman used Pennsylvania’s online voter-registration portal to register both his late mother, Elizabeth Bartman, and his deceased mother-in-law, Elizabeth Weihman, who died in 2019 — illegally registering both as Republican voters, the district attorney’s office said.
Bartman then requested, filled out and sent in the absentee ballot for his deceased mother for the 2020 general election. Bartman’s attorney, Samuel Stretton, told CNN that his client regrets the decision.
Stretton said Bartman had explained to the court that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he had been isolated at home and was misled by “propaganda and statements” that were made about voter fraud.
“This was his way of misguided political dissent,” Stretton said. “He accepts the responsibility.”
Trump repeatedly sought to sow doubt about the integrity of the general election and even falsely claimed victory over Joe Biden despite there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud in any US state.
Republican state lawmakers across the country have echoed Trump’s voting conspiracy theories and, in some cases, advanced new election bills that disproportionately affect Democratic voters.
A tally by the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found that 361 bills with provisions that restrict voting had been introduced in 47 states as of March 24. In the last month, the effort to restrict voting has intensified as state legislatures begin to head into the final months of their sessions.
“Our Office has done what it can to ensure our elections are both secure and accessible but the next fight is in Harrisburg. To those reviewing voter systems, I say, ‘Remove failed systems, not ballot boxes,’ ” Stollsteimer, a Democrat, said Friday, noting that this was the only known case of a dead person voting in the county.
“Rather than earning national attention for efforts to restrict accessibility to voting, address the breakdown in the online voter registration systems that this defendant exploited to vote for a deceased relative.”