LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A judge on Tuesday sentenced a Las Vegas man to probation on a charge he voted twice in the 2020 election by mailing in his deceased wife’s ballot.
The I-Team was first to report that Donald “Kirk” Hartle, 55, was facing two charges relating to last year’s election. In court Tuesday, Hartle pleaded guilty to one charge of voting more than once in the same election.
Hartle appeared virtually in court with his attorney, David Chesnoff. Hartle reached a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison time.
Judge Carli Kierny also fined Hartle $2,000 as part of the plea agreement. The original Category D felony carried a maximum prison sentence of four years.
“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.
The charges 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.
Rosemarie Hartle, of Las Vegas, died in 2017 at age 52 from breast cancer, Kirk Hartle, told the I-Team last November. A ballot for Rosemarie was issued in October 2020 and later received by the county, but Kirk said the ballot never came to his house. The I-Team 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 the judge Tuesday.
If Kirk Hartle stays out of trouble for a year, he will 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.
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 Tuesday, the day Hartle was sentenced.
“That is pretty sickening to me to be honest with you,” Kirk Hartle told the I-Team 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?”
“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.”
Hartle is the chief financial officer at Ahern Rentals, which hosted a rally for former President Donald Trump last September and was cited for violating coronavirus protocols. The umbrella company hosted a QAnon conference in October at the Ahern Hotel off the Las Vegas Strip.
Audits and lawsuits filed in states, including Nevada, found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Though Biden won Nevada’s six electoral votes, Republicans gained seats in the Senate and Assembly amid the state’s first widescale test of mail-in voting in the most recent election. Biden won the state by more than 30,000 votes, or about 2%.
Since last November, the I-Team has found 10 instances of dead individuals having votes cast in their names. Nevada state officials have not commented on ongoing investigations. In April, the Secretary of State’s Office said 10 voters may have voted twice.
The 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.
Earlier this year, Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 321 into law, making Nevada the sixth state to have a permanent mail-in voting system. The law requires a Nevada voter opt-out rather than opt-in to receive a mail-in ballot. It passed the Nevada Assembly and state Senate along party lines.
The Nevada GOP has not responded to repeated requests for comment.