Wisconsin Elections Commission rules state results were properly certified | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The state Elections Commission determined Friday that Gov. Tony Evers and the commission’s director acted properly last year when they finalized results showing Joe Biden won the presidential election in Wisconsin. The pair of decisions rejected complaints brought by a Republican commissioner who maintained the state’s tally was improperly certified. At least one Republican on the commission sided with the commission’s three Democrats in finding the election results were handled properly. In December, Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson filed complaints against Evers and Meagan Wolfe, the commission’s nonpartisan director, alleging they had improperly handled the results. Such complaints are normally handled by the commission’s staff, but in this case were given to DeWitt, a Madison law firm, to avoid conflicts of interest. The DeWitt attorneys concluded the Democratic governor and Wolfe acted properly and submitted their findings to the commission. The commission adopted those conclusions Friday. If two commissioners had sought one, a public hearing would have been held before the commission rendered a decision in the cases. That didn’t happen and the commission accepted DeWitt’s findings, according to commission spokesman Reid Magney. Knudson did not immediately say Friday whether he would appeal the decisions to circuit court.

Source: Elections Commission rules Wisconsin results were properly certified

Wisconsin: Proposed elections laws could be illegal | Melanie Conklin/Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin garnered national attention for holding an in-person election at the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 when other states were delaying elections or moving them online. The job of an elections attorney became all-consuming. More than a year and a divisive presidential election later, the Wisconsin Legislature is pushing through a host of bills that would affect future elections — and invite legal battles because of potential violations of state and federal law, as well as constitutional problems. “I think it can feel a little bit like whack-a-mole for people who are litigating these issues,” says Mel Barnes, staff attorney with Law Forward, a progressive law firm spearheading legal fights often on the opposite side of the lawyers who have repeatedly taken the side of Republican legislators at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). “It’s a huge volume and a lot of them are problematic. Wisconsin is very much a part of the national trends.” In fact, part of why Law Forward was created was Wisconsin’s reputation as a ”real testing ground for very conservative, very anti-voter ideas,” says Barnes. “We’ve had so much of that jammed through in the past decade. Now everything is slightly different, because we have a governor who will veto some of these things. But there’s still a very well-established conservative infrastructure here. And that’s why we see so many of these bills.” Wisconsin’s election bills mirror national trends placing new restrictions and criminal penalties on voting activities, but because the draconian voter suppression bills are almost certain to be stopped by a veto while Gov. Tony Evers is in office, Wisconsin has not received as much attention as states like Florida and Georgia, despite having nearly two dozen such bills.

Full Article: Proposed Wisconsin elections laws could be illegal – Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin: New legislation would require lawmakers to volunteer as poll workers | Jonah Chester/WORT

Today, a group of Democratic legislators introduced a bill that would require all elected state officials to serve as poll workers during elections. The legislation wouldn’t apply to members of the judiciary, but it would apply to Wisconsin’s Senators and Assembly members. The only exception is if the official is on the ballot. Representative Lee Snodgrass (D-Appleton) said during a press conference today that the proposal will increase transparency in the state’s election processes. “By requiring our non-judicial state elected officials to receive the same training as election officials in their district, we can increase knowledge, understanding and confidence in an election administered fairly and without doubt,” Appleton said. Since the November Presidential election, Republicans at both a state and federal level have cast doubt on the process Last month, the Wisconsin State Assembly greenlit a committee-led investigation into Wisconsin’s Presidential election, granting that body the ability to subpoena testimony. Democrats, elections officials, voting rights advocates, state and federal courts have all said that there were no irregularities in the November election. Democrats and voting rights advocates say that election investigations — both in Wisconsin and elsewhere — are based solely on the repeated lies of former President Donald Trump.

Full Article: New legislation would require lawmakers to volunteer as poll workers – WORT 89.9 FM

Wisconsin: Report finds Green Bay properly handled 2020 elections despite GOP criticism | Haley BeMiller/Green Bay Press-Gazette

City officials had “all-hands on deck” as they managed last year’s elections but didn’t do anything to distort the integrity of the process, according to a new report from the city attorney. Attorney Vanessa Chavez reviewed the August and November elections amid allegations from Republican lawmakers that Green Bay’s use of grant money and private consultants tainted the process. Former City Clerk Kris Teske resigned in December after clashing for months with the mayor’s office, which she accused of taking over election planning. A group of Green Bay residents filed a complaint to the Wisconsin Elections Commission earlier this month claiming that the Center for Tech and Civic Life illegally dictated how Green Bay ran its election when it provided the city with $1.6 million to facilitate voting during the coronavirus pandemic. The nonprofit distributed grants to over 200 municipalities across Wisconsin. “The 2020 Election season was one like no other, due in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chavez wrote. “Following the failures the City experienced in April 2020, the City committed to taking all actions necessary to ensure that the voting experience improved for the Green Bay electorate moving forward.” The City Council is expected to discuss the report’s findings during its May 4 meeting. Here are some key takeaways.

Full Article: Green Bay election: What city attorney report says about November

Wisconsin Senate approves Republican election changes | Todd Richmond/Associated Press

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Senate moved Wednesday to change state elections based largely on false claims that the November election was tainted, passing bills that would make interfering with election observers a crime and barring polling officials from accepting private grants to aid with administration. The proposals are part of a larger package of GOP-authored measures addressing issues former President Donald Trump and his supporters raised following Joe Biden’s narrow win in the battleground state. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has complained about Republican attempts to make absentee voting more difficult, is almost certain to veto every one of them. The bills the Senate passed Wednesday don’t make major changes to the absentee voting system. That legislation, which includes limiting access to drop boxes, has yet to come to the floor in the Senate or Assembly. The most prominent bill the Senate took up addresses Trump supporters’ claims that they weren’t given close enough access to watch Wisconsin’s presidential recount. Under the bill, observers would have to stand within 3 feet of tabulators during a recount. Any election official who intentionally obstructs an observer’s access would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months behind bars and a $1,000 fine. Democrats complained that the bill would allow observers to intimidate tabulators by literally hanging over their shoulders and create fear among tabulators that if they ask an observer for space they’ll be thrown in jail.

Full Article: Wisconsin Senate approves Republican election changes

Wisconsin Supreme Court says don’t purge voters from rolls | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state elections commission should not remove from the rolls voters flagged as possibly having moved, something Democrats fought and conservatives have wanted done for nearly two years. The court’s 5-2 ruling means about 69,000 people on the list of likely movers will not have their voter registrations deactivated. When the lawsuit was first brought in 2019, about 234,000 were on the list. Of those who remain, none voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. No voters had their registrations deactivated while the legal fight was pending. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative advocacy group, argued that the state elections commission broke the law when it did not remove voters from the rolls who did not respond within 30 days to a mailing in 2019 indicating they had been identified as someone who potentially moved. But the court said the job of removing voters from the rolls was up to local municipal elections officials, not the state commission. It ordered the case dismissed. Two of the court’s conservative justices, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justice Brian Hagedorn, joined with liberal justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky in the majority. Hagedorn, who has sided with liberals in other high profile cases, wrote the majority opinion. Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler dissented. The two Bradleys are not related. The issue received a lot of attention before the presidential race. Because voters who moved were concentrated in more Democratic areas of the state, liberals argued that the lawsuit was meant to lower turnout on their side. Republicans countered that it was about reducing the likelihood of voter fraud and making sure that people who moved are not able to vote from their previous addresses. President Joe Biden carried Wisconsin by fewer than 21,000 votes, an outcome that withstood a two-county recount brought by former President Donald Trump and numerous lawsuits.

Full Article: Wisconsin Supreme Court says don’t purge voters from rolls

Wisconsin Election Officials, Groups Raise Concerns About Proposed Election Law Changes | Laurel White/Wisconsin Public Radio

Election officials and some community groups raised concerns about several proposed changes to Wisconsin election laws on Thursday as others argued the measures would increase public confidence in elections. The bills are part of a Republican-backed package of proposed election law changes aimed at changing how the state’s elections are run. Several of the plans are direct responses to criticism of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. One proposal discussed during a meeting of the state Senate elections committee on Thursday would limit local governments from accepting grant money from an individual or group to assist with administering elections. The bill would also require any grants accepted by the Wisconsin Elections Commission to be distributed to every municipality in Wisconsin on a per capita basis and for the distribution of those funds to be approved by the Legislature’s state budget committee. During the hearing, state Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, one of the bill’s sponsors, argued grants distributed to some Wisconsin communities during the 2020 presidential election unfairly benefited Democratic strongholds, like Milwaukee. “This bill is about fairness, and it certainly wasn’t fair,” Stroebel said. “We do have over 1,800 municipalities in the state of Wisconsin — five got almost all of (the grant money).” In July, Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine — announced they would share $6.3 million in grant funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a group funded by Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg, to help run the election during the pandemic.

Full Article: Wisconsin Election Officials, Groups Raise Concerns About Proposed Election Law Changes | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Advocates For The Blind, Visually Impaired Say State’s Absentee Ballots Are Not ADA Compliant | Courtney Everett/Wisconsin Public Radio

Election Day is Tuesday and advocates for those who are blind and visually impaired are pushing for changes to the state’s absentee ballots. Wisconsin voters can request an absentee ballot, but the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired says the state does not have a ballot for absentee voting that is compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Denise Jess, who is blind, voted absentee in November which required having someone read the ballot aloud and mark her ballot. She said her ability to vote privately and independently is sacrificed when she votes by mail. “Absentee ballots are sent out on paper, so imagine holding a piece of paper folded in an envelope, you pull it out, and you have no way to interact with that piece of paper, because you can’t see it,” said Jess, executive director of the council. In Wisconsin, Jim Denham, access technology specialist with the council, says there is technology for individuals who are blind and visually impaired who want to vote in person. There is accessible voting equipment at every polling site, which is required by federal law. Some sites have what is called an ExpressVote machine, known as a ballot-marking device. An individual who is blind or visually impaired uses a game controller with arrows on it to move through the ballot electronically while wearing headphones. The person can hear the name of each candidate while scrolling through the ballot.

Full Article: Advocates For The Blind, Visually Impaired Say Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballots Are Not ADA Compliant | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Trump’s Effort to ‘Hijack’ State’s Election Could Cost Him | Erik Larson/Bloomberg

Donald Trump should be ordered to pay Wisconsin $145,000 to cover the legal expenses the state racked up defending against the former president’s “haphazard” election-fraud lawsuit, the state told a judge. Trump’s attempt to overturn the will of the state’s 3.3 million voters was so weak and time-consuming that he and his lawyers should both be punished for squandering taxpayer resources, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said in a filing Wednesday in federal court in Milwaukee. Evers also filed a motion in a separate case seeking $106,000 in fees from former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, whose suit alleging voter fraud in the state included wild claims about corrupt Democratic election workers, hacked voting machines and foreign agents. “There is no reason for Wisconsin taxpayers to bear the cost of this attempt to hijack the democratic process,” Evers said in the filing. The suits were among more than 60 unsuccessful cases brought by Trump and his allies trying to overturn election results in battleground states like Wisconsin, which narrowly went for Joe Biden. A federal appeals court affirmed the rejection of Trump’s Wisconsin case, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review. The false claims ultimately helped trigger a deadly assault on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.

Full Article: Trump’s Effort to ‘Hijack’ Wisconsin Election Could Cost Him – Bloomberg

Wisconsin: Assembly Republicans authorize committee investigation of elections | Briana Reilly/The Capital Times

Assembly Republicans voted Tuesday to direct a Wisconsin committee to investigate how elections have been administered over the last two years, paving the way for lawmakers to ramp up the scrutiny of the state’s 2020 presidential contests. While the Campaigns and Elections Committee had already been holding hearings surrounding the conduct of the November 2020 election, the resolution’s approval this week lays the groundwork for allowing the panel to subpoena witnesses or documents going forward. Republican Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, who authored the resolution and serves as the vice-chair of the panel, said the move gives lawmakers “the necessary tools we need to go forward,” but added he’s hopeful the subpoena powers won’t need to be leveraged. “I can’t understand why any elected official in this state would not want to talk openly and publicly about the administration of elections in their areas, but in the event that something does occur where we would need to subpoena records or people, then we will have this ability at our disposal,” the New Berlin Republican told reporters. At the two informational hearings the committee has held since the November election, only invited speakers were allowed to testify. Ahead of the most recent hearing, which centered on Green Bay’s administration of its election, committee members did not invite the city’s mayor or officials from the Wisconsin Elections Commission to speak, according to media reports.

Full Article: Assembly Republicans authorize committee investigation of Wisconsin elections | Local Government | madison.com

Wisconsin: Republican election commissioner to stay on case over vote | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Republican election commissioner is declining to step aside from deciding whether Democratic Gov. Tony Evers properly affirmed last year’s presidential election. Commissioner Bob Spindell’s decision to remain on the case raises the possibility that the other members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission will consider forcing him off of it. It’s the latest development in an escalating fight over how Wisconsin officials confirmed Joe Biden had narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the state last year. The case can’t alter the state’s results, but it could change how state officials handle future presidential elections. Evers’ attorney this month asked Spindell to also step aside from the complaint involving the governor because Spindell joined a group of Republicans in December who claimed to be the state’s rightful members of the Electoral College even though Biden had narrowly won the state. Spindell’s participation in that meeting showed he had already concluded Evers had not properly named the state’s slate of electors, prejudicing him against the governor, according to Evers’ attorney, Jeffrey Mandell. (The meeting of Republican would-be electors is the subject of a separate complaint — filed with Mandell’s assistance — before the Elections Commission.) The complaints over how the election results were finalized are being handled by DeWitt, a law firm in Madison. Attorneys there will make recommendations to the commission in the coming weeks on whether to uphold or dismiss Knudson’s complaints.

Full Article: Republican election commissioner to stay on case over Wisconsin vote

Wisconsin Republicans Renew Attack On Election Grants Funded By Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

A Republican attorney who tried unsuccessfully to overturn the results of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election told GOP lawmakers Wednesday that newly released emails showed a group with ties to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had too much influence over the voting process in Green Bay last year. While the latest development sparked calls for investigations from GOP lawmakers, Democrats accused Republicans of revisiting a debunked conspiracy theory by rehashing a failed court case involving an election they already lost. Green Bay was one of several Wisconsin cities that received grant money in 2020 from a group called the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), an organization funded by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. In July, Wisconsin’s five largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine — announced they would share $6.3 million in CTCL grant funding to help run the election during the pandemic. CTCL said it awarded grants to a total of 221 counties, cities, towns and villages in Wisconsin as part of more than 2,500 election grants handed out nationwide. Erick Kaardal, an attorney for the conservative Thomas More Society and a former secretary and treasurer for the Republican Party of Minnesota, filed two lawsuits challenging the grants on behalf of a group called the Wisconsin Voters Alliance. Kaardal lost both cases, one in state court and one in federal court. He also filed and lost similar lawsuits in other swing states. The Wisconsin grants received renewed attention this week when emails uncovered through an open records request showed former Green Bay municipal Clerk Kris Teske raised issues with the funding, suggesting that a private contractor hired by the city was making decisions that should be her responsibility.

Full Article: Republicans Renew Attack On Election Grants Funded By Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Supreme Court declines to hear last active lawsuit to overturn presidential election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The U.S. Supreme Court quietly put an end to the 2020 election on Monday — four months after polls closed — by declining to hear a lawsuit brought by former President Donald Trump to throw out thousands of ballots and let the Legislature pick the winner of the state’s 10 electoral votes. It was the last active legal challenge from Trump or his supporters to change the outcome of Wisconsin’s election. “This is the inevitable end to the ignominious litigation assault on Wisconsin’s November 2020 election,” Jeff Mandell, an attorney representing Gov. Tony Evers in one of the lawsuits, said Monday. “It was clear from the outset that these efforts to overturn the will of the voters never had any merit.” A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin deferred comment to the Trump campaign, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul credited attorneys at the state Department of Justice who “successfully protected Wisconsinites’ votes.” Evers and state election officials still face a class-action lawsuit seeking billions in damages filed in Colorado against social media companies, a voting machine company and officials in swing states. The legal challenge turned away by justices on Monday was first filed in federal court in the weeks following the Nov. 3 election when Trump and his allies were bombarding state and federal judges across the country with lawsuits seeking to change the outcome of the presidential contest.

Full Article: Supreme Court declines to hear last active lawsuit to overturn Wisconsin’s presidential election

Wisconsin: Study uncovers flaws in process for maintaining state voter rolls | Mike Cummings/Yale News

States regularly use administrative records, such as motor-vehicle data, in determining whether people have moved to prune their voter rolls. A Yale-led study of this process in Wisconsin shows that a significant percentage of registered voters are incorrectly identified as having changed addresses, potentially endangering their right to vote. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that at least 4% of people listed as suspected “movers” cast ballots in 2018 elections using addresses that were wrongly flagged as out of date. Minority voters were twice as likely as white voters to cast their ballot with their original address of registration after the state marked them as having moved, the study showed. The findings suggest that states should more clearly communicate the processes they use to update voter-registration files and that a more robust effort is required to confirm whether individuals have moved before they are removed from the voter rolls, said Yale political scientist Gregory A. Huber, the study’s lead author. The process of maintaining states’ voter-registration files cries out for greater transparency,” said Huber, the Forst Family Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. “Our work shows that significant numbers of people are at risk of being disenfranchised, particularly those from minority groups.

Full Article: Study uncovers flaws in process for maintaining state voter rolls | YaleNews

Wisconsin: Rightwing group nearly forced state to purge thousands of eligible voters | Sam Levine and Alvin Chang/The Guardian

well-connected conservative group in Wisconsin nearly succeeded in forcing the state to kick nearly 17,000 eligible voters off its rolls ahead of the 2020 election, new state data reveals. The group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (Will), caused a national uproar in late 2019 when it successfully convinced a county judge to order the state to immediately remove more than 232,000 people Wisconsin suspected of moving homes from the state’s voter rolls. The state, relying on government records, had sent a postcard to all of those voters asking them to confirm their address, and Will sought to remove anyone who had not responded within 30 days. Democrats on the commission refused to comply with the order, believing that they didn’t have the authority to immediately remove the voters and that the underlying data wasn’t reliable, and wanted to give voters until April 2021 to confirm their address before they removed them. Appeals courts intervened and blocked the removals; the case is currently pending before the Wisconsin supreme court. There were still more than 71,000 voters still on the list at the end of January who did not respond to the mailer (152,524 people on the list updated their registration at a new address). But new data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission shows how disastrous such a purge could have been. And the dispute underscores the way fights over how states remove people from their voter rolls – often called purging – has become a critical part of protecting voting rights in America. Across the country, Republicans and conservative groups have pushed for aggressive purging, saying it helps prevent fraud. Democrats and voting rights groups say the process can be done haphazardly, leaving eligible voters, particularly minority groups and students, at risk of being wrongly purged.

Full Article: Rightwing group nearly forced Wisconsin to purge thousands of eligible voters | US news | The Guardian

Wisconsin: U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Trump’s election challenge and the attorney in another case could be sanctioned | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In the final blows to attempts to overturn Wisconsin’s presidential results, the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review one case and a judge has ruled an attorney bringing another one could face professional sanctions for making baseless claims. The twin rulings stamp out the last efforts to reverse President Joe Biden’s win in the Badger State. Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not review a 4-3 decision against Trump by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The majority in that ruling found one of Trump’s challenges to Wisconsin’s results was without merit and his others were brought far too late to be considered by the state justices. The Wisconsin Supreme Court decision was one of several it issued in December that upheld Biden’s narrow win over then-President Donald Trump. Separately, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Friday asked a court committee to consider reprimanding the attorney for two Wisconsin lawmakers and others who challenged the results. He determined their lawsuit was meritless and consisted of political grandstanding.

Full Article: Supreme Court declines to hear Trump election challenge in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor calls for expanding early voting, seeks to let clerks count absentee ballots before election day | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget would expand early voting, allow clerks to count absentee ballots before election day and require a voter bill of rights to be posted at every polling station. The Democratic governor’s push to change voting laws comes after the coronavirus pandemic upended elections in 2020. Republicans who control the Legislature have called for tightening election laws and are likely to toss out many of the voting proposals from Evers.  Evers wants to allow local officials to decide when early voting should begin, instead of limiting it to the two weeks before election day. Republicans put the early voting limits in place years ago, saying they wanted to make sure large communities don’t start early voting well before rural areas.  Evers is seeking to add a provision to state law that would require polling stations to post notices telling people they have a number of rights, including the right to vote if eligible, review a sample ballot before voting, cast a secret ballot, get assistance if they are disabled and report illegal activity. The notices would also have to alert people that they are allowed to vote if they are in line before the polls close. Evers wants to allow clerks to count absentee ballots on the day before election day if they want. Clerks have long asked for that authority, saying it would have helped them contend with an unprecedented influx of mail ballots during the pandemic. Under Evers’ plan, clerks could count absentee ballots between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. the day before election day as long as they used automatic tabulating machines. Members of the public would be allowed to watch the process, just as they can observe voting at the polls.

Full Article: Tony Evers calls for expanding early voting as part of state budget

Wisconsin’s 2020 election will be audited, Republican-led state committee orders | Riley Vetterkind/The Journal Times

A Republican-controlled legislative committee on Thursday authorized a comprehensive audit of the administration of the November election, a move that Republicans said will increase confidence in the electoral process but one that Democrats said might be used as a vehicle to do the opposite. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee on a 6-4 party line vote authorized the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an audit into how the presidential election was conducted. State auditor Joe Chrisman said he anticipates the bureau will complete the audit by the fall of 2021 and that a series of findings could be reported along the way. The committee allowed officials a broad scope of inquiry, but the Audit Bureau has proposed looking into efforts by the Wisconsin Elections Commission to comply with state election laws, including its work with local election officials to ensure voter registration data includes only eligible voters and providing training and guidance to clerks. The audit is also expected to examine whether local clerks complied with election laws, including administering elections, processing absentee ballots and performing recount responsibilities. Other topics of inquiry are the use of electronic voting machines, including the methodology and results of the Elections Commission’s most recent statutorily required post-election audit and the actions taken in its wake; as well as a look at general election-related complaints filed with the WEC and local clerks, and how they were addressed.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s 2020 election will be audited, Republican-led state committee orders | Govt-and-politics | journaltimes.com

Wisconsin Republicans order an audit of the 2020 elections | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican lawmakers launched an audit of Wisconsin’s elections Thursday, three months after Donald Trump lost at the ballot box and in a string of lawsuits. The review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau will look at some issues that have faced scrutiny from courts and election observers, such as how the state maintains its voter rolls and when it allows voters to get absentee ballots without showing IDs. Rep. Samantha Kerkman, a Salem Lakes Republican and co-chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, said she wanted to make sure voters are confident that elections are fair. “It is the cornerstone of our government,” she said.  Her committee approved the audit along party lines Thursday after an hours-long hearing. The hearing included testimony from the state’s top elections official as well as lawmakers, young children who quoted from the Bible and a woman who read a computer’s IP address as she asked questions about the accuracy of electronic voting. No significant problems were found with Wisconsin’s voting machines after audits and recounts in 2016 and 2020. 

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans order an audit of the 2020 elections

Wisconsin: More than 37,000 absentee ballots tied to elections commission mailing | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

More than 37,000 absentee ballots were counted from Wisconsin voters who returned an application form ahead of the November presidential election, a mailing that was a compromise by the politically divided state elections commission. Democrats wanted to send the mailing to all registered voters, whether they had requested an absentee ballot or not. Republicans on the commission ultimately prevailed in sending the mailing only to 2.6 million people who did not already have an absentee ballot application on file. It’s impossible to know whether the 37,481 people who returned the application form and later cast an absentee ballot would have done so had they not received the mailing. Wisconsin voters do not register by party, so it’s also impossible to know how many of those voters were Republicans or Democrats. However, Democrats were more aggressive in promoting absentee voting for Joe Biden while former President Donald Trump and his allies argued against absentee voting, saying before the election that voting by mail was rife with fraud. Biden won Wisconsin by fewer than 21,000 votes. After Trump’s loss, he argued unsuccessfully for tossing more than 238,000 absentee ballots that he said were illegally cast in Milwaukee and Dane counties in a failed attempt to overturn Biden’s win. Trump’s arguments were rejected by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump did not single out absentee ballots returned using the application form sent by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Full Article: More than 37,000 Wisconsin absentee ballots tied to mailing

Wisconsin: In ‘thousands of complaints’ about election, few that could be substantiated | Chris Rickert and Riley Vetterkind/Wisconsin State Journal

In December, with then-President Donald Trump continuing to falsely claim that massive fraud and other voting irregularities had denied him a second term, top Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature said they were reviewing “thousands of complaints” about the Nov. 3 election. There were indeed thousands of complaints in the emails sent between Nov. 3 and Dec. 8 to lawmakers investigating the election. The majority of them, however, were mass-generated form letters making nonspecific claims about alleged irregularities, a right-wing fraud-finding effort and a clip from Fox’s Sean Hannity show. Others implored Republican lawmakers to overturn an election they were convinced was rigged, even though local, state and national officials have confirmed its integrity. The Wisconsin State Journal was able to identify just 28 allegations of election fraud or other irregularities that were specific enough to attempt to verify, but could only partially substantiate one, involving 42 votes. Interviews with dozens of prosecutors, election officials and people who lodged complaints made clear that most, if not all, of the allegations could be chalked up to hearsay or minor administrative errors. Republican Rep. Ron Tusler said the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, which he chaired last session, has so far been able to substantiate only one case of potential voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election: A Cedarburg woman was charged in November after she allegedly submitted an absentee ballot for her dead partner.

Full Article: In ‘thousands of complaints’ about Wisconsin election, few that could be substantiated | Wisconsin Elections | madison.com

Editorial: Wisconsin lawmakers show us how not to fix the electoral college |The Washington Post

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin last November by a mere 20,000 votes, out of more than 3.2 million cast. Like most states, Wisconsin has a winner-take-all system, so he won all 10 of its electoral votes. Now, a Wisconsin state lawmaker proposes changing how the state allocates its electoral votes, splitting them among candidates according to how they fared in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Maine and Nebraska have similar systems, which enabled President Trump to win an electoral vote by carrying Maine’s 2nd District and Mr. Biden to gain an electoral vote by winning Nebraska’s 2nd District in the 2020 race. The idea has some superficial appeal: If every state allocated electoral votes this way, it would encourage candidates to campaign outside a few privileged enclaves without upending the electoral college system, and candidates would draw at least some electoral votes from states they lost narrowly. But there are two major problems. First is the partisan context. Democrats have won Wisconsin — often by narrow margins — in every election save one since 1988. The Republicans who control the state legislature would enable GOP candidates to win electoral votes out of Wisconsin, while lawmakers in states that vote more reliably Republican would maintain their winner-take-all systems, biasing the electoral map against Democrats. Worse, allocating electoral votes by congressional district would import gerrymandering into the presidential election process. Because of Wisconsin’s warped congressional map, if the system had been in place in 2020, Mr. Trump would have taken six electoral votes from Wisconsin and Mr. Biden only four, despite the president-elect’s 20,000-vote margin. And Mr. Biden would have fared even that well only because the statewide winner would have gotten two automatic electoral votes; Mr. Trump carried six of the state’s eight congressional districts. If Mr. Biden had narrowly lost, he likely would have won only two electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s eight. In other words, the state’s electoral votes would have been allocated in a manner that was far from proportional.

Full Article: Opinion | Wisconsin lawmakers show us how not to fix the electoral college – The Washington Post

Pennsylvania: First it was ‘fraud,’ then they just didn’t like the rules: How Republicans justified trying to overturn an election | Andrew Seidman and Jonathan Tamari/Philadelphia Inquirer

As Joe Biden took the lead in the vote count and then won Pennsylvania, some of the state’s top Republicans added their voices to President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election was stolen and rife with fraud. U.S. Rep. Scott Perry joined a “Stop the Steal” rally in Harrisburg and later went on Fox Business Network to blast Pennsylvania’s election as a “horrific embarrassment.“They say, ‘Oh, you know, 100,000 votes just showed up, and oh by the way, they all just happen to be for Joe Biden,’” he said in one interview on Nov 6. “We had dead people voting. We had a lot of people voting two or three times,” U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly said during a Nov. 24 interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News radio program. And U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler went on the far-right cable channel Newsmax to amplify unproven claims and said, “We know there were individuals that were dead that miraculously registered to vote and mailed in a vote.”

Full Article: Pennsylvania Republicans’ election fraud claims shrunk before they objected to Electoral College

Wisconsin Senate Republicans block resolution condemning U.S. Capitol assault and affirming Biden victory | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an effort to condemn last week’s assault of the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead and police officers beaten and hit with stun guns. Senate President Chris Kapenga denied a resolution from Democratic Sen. Jeff Smith of Eau Claire from being taken up during Tuesday’s floor session saying it was not relevant to the state Senate. It would have acknowledged that Joe Biden won the Nov. 3 presidential election, condemned the deadly riot and President Donald Trump’s claims of a “stolen election,” and offered condolences to the family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who was killed by the mob during the Jan. 6 breach. Republican senators agreed with Kapenga’s ruling and voted to block the resolution from being taken up. Smith argued the resolution was relevant because of recent warnings from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that “armed protests” were being planned at every state Capitol in the country. “I do believe it has a lot to do with the organization of not only this Senate but the protection of this building,” Smith said in response to Kapenga’s ruling, saying the FBI warning shows a direct threat to the Wisconsin State Capitol and its members. “More than ever would be an opportunity to pull together and denounce what has been happening in this country and in this state regarding how our elections are run,” he said.

Full Article: Wisconsin Senate Republicans block resolution condemning U.S. Capitol assault and affirming Biden victory

Wisconsin GOP Group Condemned for ‘Prepare for War’ Website Message | Brendan Cole/Newsweek

With the U.S. reeling from the aftermath of the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Donald Trump, a GOP group in Wisconsin is under fire for a message on its website that urges conservatives to “prepare for war.” At the top of the website of the St. Croix Republican Party is the Latin phrase “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” The GOP group from the northwest of the Badger State says the message, which means “If you want peace, prepare for war,” had been online before the protests last Wednesday. On the front of the group’s website, which it describes as a “digital battlefield” and whose banner reads “Patriots: God, guns freedom, liberty,” the St. Croix Republicans say that “never before has the mission of the Conservative patriot been so clear.” It claims that over the last four years, the Democrats had worked with the “Marxist left and a complicit mass media” to overturn the 2016 election and accused the party of “changing the rules of the game” in the 2020 election cycle.

Full Article: Wisconsin GOP Group Condemned for ‘Prepare for War’ Website Message

Wisconsin: After holdup, Republicans agree to reimburse Milwaukee and Dane counties for recount costs | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican state lawmakers agreed Friday to reimburse two counties that went to President-elect Joe Biden nearly $2.5 million for their recount costs after blocking the payments for a month. The move will allow Dane and Milwaukee counties, along with the state Elections Commission, to recover their costs for the recount President Donald Trump sought after narrowly losing the state. It will also allow Trump’s campaign to get a refund of more than $500,000 for expenses that weren’t incurred. Under state law, Trump’s campaign had to pay $3 million before the recount could begin. But after the recount, Republicans on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee prevented the Elections Commission from reimbursing the counties because they wanted to review receipts. Now that that’s happened, they announced Friday they were freeing up the money so the counties could be reimbursed. They made the decision two days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol and Congress confirmed Biden’s win. “Although the receipts from Dane and Milwaukee counties have raised concerns, we now have the information we need to approve their request,” said a statement from Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam, a co-chairman of the committee.

Full Article: After holdup, Republicans agree to reimburse Milwaukee and Dane counties for recount costs

Editorial: Ron Johnson’s dangerous shilling for Donald Trump makes him unfit to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The arrogance of Ron Johnson is breathtaking. Johnson and 12 other Republican senators say they will challenge the tabulation of Electoral College votes in Congress on Wednesday in a dangerous political stunt that will accomplish nothing but may burnish their image with those who would choose outgoing President Donald Trump over democracy. Johnson and his shameful friends are planning to support Trump as he directly opposes the will of the people. Their challenge will lead to a long debate in Congress but nothing more, given Democratic control of the House of Representatives. In the end, the results of the presidential election will not change: Joe Biden will still have beaten Trump by 7 million votes and won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. But Johnson’s stunt will do harm to our democracy. What precedent is being set here? What happens the next time a party — either party — loses the presidency narrowly while controlling both houses of Congress? Will those politicians do what Johnson and his hyperpartisan mob are doing? Will they make up lies about the election, cry voter fraud, complain about voting machines, election officials and any other ghost they can conjure? The playbook for turmoil is simple: Create suspicion. Fuel the fears of the side that lost. Don’t bother with facts or truth. Keep repeating and spreading lies until people forget their source and start to believe them or become so confused they can no longer determine the truth.

Full Article: Ron Johnson’s dangerous shilling for Trump makes him unfit for Senate

Wisconsin: Federal judge scoffs at election lawsuit brought by state Republicans | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A federal judge on Monday rejected the underpinning of a lawsuit seeking to undo election results brought by two Wisconsin Republicans and others, writing that it was riddled with errors, unserious and brought in bad faith. The lawsuit by state Reps. David Steffen of Howard and Jeffrey Mursau of Crivitz, among others, is rife with so many problems that their lawyers may need to be sanctioned professionally, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of Washington, D.C., wrote. He noted the attorneys had not served the lawsuit on its numerous defendants, even after Boasberg reminded them they needed to do that. “Courts are not instruments through which parties engage in such gamesmanship or symbolic political gestures,” he wrote. “As a result, at the conclusion of this litigation, the Court will determine whether to issue an order to show cause why this matter should not be referred to its Committee on Grievances for potential discipline of Plaintiffs’ counsel.” His ruling denied a preliminary injunction that sought to undo the certifications of elections in Wisconsin and other battleground states that went to Democrat Joe Biden over President Donald Trump.

Full Article: Judge scoffs at election lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Republicans

Wisconsin: Trump Campaign Asks US Supreme Court To Take Case On Overturning Election Results | Danielle Kaeding/Wisconsin Public Radio

The Trump campaign wants the U.S. Supreme Court to consider its lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s U.S. presidential election results after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against them this month. The Trump campaign’s lead attorney Rudy Giuliani announced the filing on Tuesday. The state Supreme Court rejected the campaign’s lawsuit in a 4-3 vote, ruling that President Donald Trump should have challenged Wisconsin’s rules prior to the November election if he had problems with them. “Regrettably, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in their 4-3 decision, refused to address the merits of our claim,” said Jim Troupis, Trump’s lead Wisconsin attorney. “This ‘Cert Petition’ asks them to address our claims, which, if allowed, would change the outcome of the election in Wisconsin.” Troupis highlighted that three conservative members of the state Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Pat Roggensack, dissented from the majority. In doing so, they voiced criticism of fellow conservative Brian Hagedorn, who sided with liberal justices in the 4-3 decision. The ruling came hours before the state’s electors were set to cast their votes for President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump campaign wants the nation’s highest court to provide an expedited decision before Congress counts Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.

Full Article: Trump Campaign Asks US Supreme Court To Take Case On Overturning Wisconsin Election Results | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Federal appeals court rejects Trump bid to overturn election results | Bill Glauber/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s latest effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Wisconsin. The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago upheld a decision reached nearly two weeks ago by U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig in Milwaukee. In his suit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission and others, Trump had sought to have the Republican-led Legislature, rather than voters, decide how to allocate Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes. Ludwig — a Trump nominee — concluded Wisconsin officials had followed state laws when they conducted the Nov. 3 election. In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel in Chicago “affirmed” Ludwig’s decision. “On the merits, the district court was right to enter judgment for the defendants,” the 7th Circuit said. “We reach this conclusion in no small part because of the President’s delay in bringing the challenges to Wisconsin law that provide the foundation for the alleged constitutional violation. Even apart from the delay, the claims fail under the Electors Clause.” Judge Michael Scudder Jr., nominated to the court by Trump, wrote the decision. The other members of the panel were Judge Joel Flaum and Judge Ilana Rovner, who were both nominated by Ronald Reagan.

Full Article: Federal appeals court rejects Trump bid to overturn Wisconsin results