LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas man who voted twice in the 2020 election with his deceased wife’s ballot withdrew his plea on a felony charge Thursday and instead pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor as part of a plea deal where he avoided jail time and had to pay a $2,000 fine.
The 8 News Now Investigators first reported Donald “Kirk” Hartle, 56, a registered Republican, was facing two charges relating to the 2020 election. In court last November, Hartle pleaded guilty to one charge of voting more than once in the same election. Hartle had reached a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison time and to change his plea after a year.
Last November, Judge Carli Kierny fined Hartle $2,000 and ordered him to stay out of trouble. Having completed that requirement as of Thursday, Judge Bita Yeager accepted Hartle’s updated guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to vote more than once in an election.
Rosemarie Hartle, of Las Vegas, died in 2017 at age 52 from breast cancer, Kirk Hartle told the 8 News Now Investigators in an interview in 2020. A ballot for Rosemarie Hartle was issued in October 2020 and later received by the county, but Kirk Hartle said the ballot never came to his house. The 8 News Now Investigators found even though Rosemarie died in 2017, her name appeared on the active voter list.
“I would like to say that I accept full responsibility for my actions and regret them, and I’m thankful for your consideration,” Kirk Hartle told Kierny last year.
“That is pretty sickening to me to be honest with you,” Kirk Hartle told the 8 News Now Investigators in an interview in November 2020. “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?”
“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,” Kierny told Hartle in court last year.
Rosemarie Hartle’s ballot was one of two cited by Nevada Republicans and national party leaders as evidence of voter fraud in Nevada.
“‘Disbelief’ and ‘sickening’… that’s how Kirk Hartle feels about someone voting in his deceased wife’s name,” a tweet from the Nevada GOP, posted Nov. 10, 2020, said. “How did the forged signature pass Clark County’s signature verification machine? And this isn’t the only case of a deceased person voting in NV.”
The tweet remained posted as of Thursday, more than two years later and after Hartle’s conviction.
“Though rare, voter fraud can undercut trust in our election system,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement last year. “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.”
Audits and lawsuits filed in states, including Nevada, found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Hartle was the only case the Nevada Attorney General’s Office has prosecuted thus far in relation to the 2020 election.
The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, which is headed by a Republican, the Nevada Supreme Court and several judges said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. One lawsuit, brought by the Republican Party’s six electors and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, sought to have Nevada’s election results overturned.
The Nevada GOP has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
While claiming fraud in the 2020 election, Nevada Republican leaders did not make the same claim for the 2022 primary nor last week’s 2022 general election, which followed the same procedures.
In 2021, the Nevada Legislature passed a law that would send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter unless the voter opted out of receiving one. The laws also created new frameworks to remove deceased voters from the voter lists.