Wisconsin judge skeptical of election grant arguments | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

A judge on Tuesday voiced skepticism about a lawsuit challenging the legality of private grant money awarded to Madison to help run the 2020 election, calling some of the arguments “ridiculous,” a “stretch” and “close to preposterous.” The lawsuit argues that private grants given to Madison from a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg amounted to illegal bribery. The Wisconsin Elections Commission in December rejected that complaint, and this lawsuit is an appeal of that decision. Four nearly identical lawsuits are also pending in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha. The case in Madison was the first to hold arguments. Three Wisconsin courts have previously rejected similar lawsuits arguing that the grants were illegal. Similar lawsuits filed in other swing states have also been rejected. Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke referenced those rulings when he questioned attorney Erick Kaardal Tuesday. Kardaal said the commission got it wrong and Madison should not have been allowed to use a portion of the grant money to pay for absentee ballot drop boxes because, he said, they are illegal, based on a Waukesha County circuit court ruling issued after the election. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently weighing an appeal of that ruling.

Full Article: Wisconsin judge skeptical of election grant arguments | AP News

Wisconsin: Michael Gableman’s vendetta over Wisconsin’s 2020 election must end | Barry C. Burden and Trey Grayson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Last fall, we warned about the risks of a so-called investigation into the settled 2020 election led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman — a costly, bad-faith endeavor with no credibility or transparency. Remarkably, Gableman’s sham review and his partisan antics are still going on, with no end in sight. Just a few days ago, Gableman was campaigning at a rally with hyper-partisan actors in Wisconsin, including conspiracy theorists and candidates running on disinformation and lies. As a majority of Wisconsin voters know, the 2020 election was free, fair, and accurate —and occurred more than 18 months ago. But the bill to Wisconsin taxpayers for Gableman’s “investigation” of that election will be at least $676,000. This review is more than a waste of money. It’s dangerous. As the nearly 2,000 clerks in Wisconsin prepare for the mid-term elections, a more pernicious risk of the sham election review is emerging: that Gableman’s charade  erodes confidence in our elections and the officials who make them run smoothly. It’s time for the so-called investigation to end, before Gableman does even more long-term damage in Wisconsin.

Full Article: Michael Gableman’s vendetta over Wisconsin’s 2020 election must end

Wisconsin: I’m frankly amazed’: Another judge orders Republicans to prevent destruction of records in Gableman election review | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A second judge Wednesday ordered Wisconsin Republicans to prevent the destruction of public records as they review the 2020 election at taxpayer expense. Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said she was compelled to issue the order but was astonished she had to do it because the review is being overseen by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. “I’m frankly amazed that I have to say don’t destroy records that are subject to an open records request or order that to occur. I think all of us know what the law is,” Bailey-Rihn said at the end of a 30-minute hearing. She said as a former justice Gableman should know what the records law requires and has an ethical obligation to follow it. Gableman has contended he is exempt from retaining records because the lawmakers who hired him are not required to hold onto records under state law. Bailey-Rihn issued her order two weeks after Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington issued a similar order in another open records lawsuit. Those two lawsuits and a third one were brought by American Oversight, a liberal group that has been tracking the Assembly review of the presidential election. A month ago, Bailey-Rihn found Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester in contempt of court for failing to release records about the election review. She will determine later whether Vos has now met his obligations and whether he should be fined.

Full Article: Judge orders Wisconsin Republicans to retain election review records

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker extends Gableman election review after pressure from Donald Trump | Molly Beck Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is extending the taxpayer-funded contract of the former state Supreme Court justice leading a review of the 2020 election — a decision announced a day after former President Donald Trump sought to intimidate Vos by threatening a successful primary challenge if the review did not continue. In a statement Monday that did not name Vos directly, Trump suggested to his millions of supporters that the Rochester Republican will see a successful primary opponent if he does not extend former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s contract with the state Assembly. “Anyone calling themselves a Republican in Wisconsin should support the continued investigation in Wisconsin without interference,” Trump said. “I understand some RINOs have primary challengers in Wisconsin. I’m sure their primary opponents would get a huge bump in the polls if these RINOs interfere,” Trump said, using an acronym for “Republicans In Name Only.” On Tuesday, Vos issued a statement announcing Gableman’s office will remain open “as we guarantee the legal power of our legislative subpoenas and get through the other lawsuits that have gridlocked this investigation.”

Full Article: Vos extends Gableman election review after pressure from Donald Trump

Wisconsin judge orders Gableman’s office to stop deleting records in election investigation | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

A Dane County judge has ordered former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to stop deleting records related to a Republican investigation of the 2020 election. Judge Frank Remington’s order Thursday followed a request by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight. Last month, Remington ruled Gableman must turn over documents sought by American Oversight in an open records dispute. The latest court filing from the group showed that Gableman’s Office of Special Counsel, or OSC, was deleting certain documents or text messages. American Oversight told Remington this was in violation of Wisconsin’s open records law. “Alarmingly, OSC stated that it continues to delete records it deems irrelevant to the election investigation and declared itself exempt from any requirement to retain records,” wrote American Oversight attorney Christa Westerberg.

Full Article: Judge orders Gableman’s office to stop deleting records in election investigation | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Michael Gableman, leader of the GOP’s review of the 2020 vote, disparages state’s election director for how she dresses | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When Republican attorney Michael Gableman took to the airwaves Tuesday, he didn’t just attack the governor, the attorney general, two judges and five members of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. He also took a shot at how the woman leading the commission dresses. “Black dress, white pearls — I’ve seen the act, I’ve seen the show,” Gableman said on WTAQ-AM of Meagan Wolfe, director of the Elections Commission. When host Joe Giganti said he recently saw Wolfe wearing a gold locket rather than pearls, Gableman responded, “Oh, Hillary Clinton.” The off-script comment came as Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice, made the case that the Elections Commission should be dissolved and voting rules overhauled. Gableman is conducting his review of the 2020 election using $676,000 in taxpayer funds provided by Republicans who control the Assembly. “I’m a professional who takes my job seriously,” Wolfe said in a written statement. “Comments directed at my appearance are a far cry from being serious, and are beneath anybody who purports to be undertaking a review of subject matter as important as election integrity.”

Full Article: Michael Gableman disparages elections director for how she dresses

Wisconsin: How election conspiracy theories turned local politics ‘toxic’ in Green Bay | Elena Schneider/Politico

For the second time since Election Day 2020, uniformed police officers will be on duty when ballot counting begins in Green Bay’s local elections. It’s the result of tension building for over a year in the city, which has become ground zero for election conspiracy theories in a battleground state still consumed by the last presidential race. Furor that started over the use of private funds to help a cash-strapped local government run the 2020 election soon morphed into something darker than normal political disagreement, including a report of a “suspicious person” who improperly accessed the clerk’s office on Election Day 2020, according to city government emails obtained by POLITICO. Now, Green Bay’s nonpartisan city council races — traditionally quiet affairs that focus on taxes and roads — feature ads from a GOP super PAC questioning whether the city’s elections are legitimate and a Democratic super PAC urging voters to “keep Wisconsin elections fair, secure and accessible.” Threats to local officials increased, and some poll workers have dropped out of the election, citing safety concerns. Officials installed cameras on every floor of city hall and formulated evacuation plans, after the November 2020 incident in the clerk’s office and the gathering of protesters outside city hall on Jan. 6., 2021. A mayoral recall effort is underway.

Full Article: How election conspiracy theories turned local politics ‘toxic’ in one Wisconsin city – POLITICO

Wisconsin election clerks face unprecedented scrutiny despite no widespread fraud | Local Government | Alexander Shur/Wisconsin State Journal

Since the 2020 presidential election, Florence County Clerk Donna Trudell said she has fielded about two calls a week from people concerned that hackers will break into voting machines in the county to change votes from one party to another in future elections. To ease those concerns, Trudell, who was a deputy clerk for 10 years and county clerk for the last nine, bought new voting machines without modems to assure callers the devices cannot connect to the internet. But the calls keep coming, and now include many voters skeptical that she has really ordered voting machines without modems. Never mind that there’s no evidence that voting machines that do connect to the internet have ever been hacked to change votes in Wisconsin or anywhere else. Or that some clerks in Florence County — where former President Donald Trump beat President Joe Biden by a nearly 3-to-1 margin — have even held public training sessions to show how the new voting machines work.

Full Article: Wisconsin election clerks face unprecedented scrutiny despite no widespread fraud | Local Government | madison.com

Wisconsin: ‘Let’s sit down and talk about it’: Clerks prepare for public testing of voting machines | A.J. Bayatpour/wkow.com

Lori Stottler knows there’s never been so much public interest in the accuracy of the machines her office uses to count Janesville’s ballots. To be sure everything is in order ahead of the April 5 spring election, she’s conducting three days of pretesting on the city’s machines before a public testing. 27 News observed Wednesday’s session. Stottler said ongoing skepticism from some conservatives over the 2020 general election leaves her hoping more people will attend Saturday’s public test. “Just like anything in life, when it comes to politics, religion, and now, elections, let’s sit down and talk about it,” Stottler said. “Maybe I can help you understand better and you can help me understand what I need to be doing differently to make sure that I have your trust.” A series of legal challenges and recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties upheld President Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin. Still, skeptics have pushed unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud, including theories of foreign actors hacking voting machines.

Full Article: ‘Let’s sit down and talk about it’: Clerks prepare for public testing of voting machines | News | wkow.com

Wisconsin Elections Commission pushes back on Gableman report | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is pushing back on a Republican-ordered report released this week that cast doubt on the 2020 election in Wisconsin, saying the review was full of misunderstandings and outright falsehoods. The report includes an assertion by Republican special counsel Michael Gableman that votes from “incapacitated” nursing home residents had cast doubt on the outcome of the election. Gableman issued his report earlier this week and more than eight months after he signed a contract with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to investigate the 2020 presidential election in the state. Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice, made a wide range of broad allegations that the 2020 election was conducted illegally, focusing much of his presentation to Assembly lawmakers on votes cast by elderly people at residential care facilities. In March 2020, the Wisconsin Elections Commission decided that special voting deputies — people deputized by the county clerk to administer absentee voting in nursing homes and qualified care facilities — wouldn’t be able to enter those facilities because of COVID-19 concerns. Instead, residents who wanted to vote could request absentee ballots and get help from staff at the homes to complete them. During Gableman’s presentation, he showed video interviews of nursing home residents who voted in 2020 being asked to choose between hypothetical candidates based on policy positions, like whether they supported tax cuts. The residents in the video were often confused.

Full Article: Wisconsin Elections Commission pushes back on Gableman report | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Elections Commission debates how electronic voting data is stored | Anthony Dabruzzi/Spectrum

Now that state lawmakers have wrapped up their legislative business, many will turn their focus to the campaign trail. As they do, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is continuing to work through its own changes for running elections. Commissioners put their focus on how electronic voting system data is currently stored, during a virtual meeting Wednesday. For every ballot cast in Wisconsin, there is a paper artifact, which is the first way to validate results. Hence, discussion of the issue isn’t really about tabulation, rather retention in case questions are ever raised. All across the state, data within electronic voting systems are being kept properly, according to a recent analysis by commission staff. However, the guidance for how information should be stored is 12 years old and doesn’t carry the force of law.

Full Article: WEC debates how electronic voting data is stored

Wisconsin: Gableman report calls for decertifying 2020 election. The Legislature’s nonpartisan lawyers say that’s not possible. | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

The special counsel hired by Wisconsin Republicans to investigate the 2020 presidential election told lawmakers Tuesday that they “ought to take a very hard look” at decertifying the election, a move that has been widely dismissed as legally impossible. Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman also said private grants used to run the election constituted “election bribery” and called on lawmakers to “eliminate and dismantle” the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The commission’s administrator, he said, should be fired. The suggestions to lawmakers come a week after the state Assembly held what Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said was likely the final session day of the year. Vos, who hired Gableman last year, had also billed these recommendations as Gableman’s final report. But Gableman, who acknowledged some uncertainty over his own contract with the Legislature, vowed that his investigation would continue. “This will not end today,” Gableman said at the start of the hearing. “This is an important topic, and there’s a lot of work to do. And I will be back.” Gableman’s assertion that the Legislature should — or even could — decertify the presidential election has next to no support, either in the judicial system where he once served, or among lawmakers from either party in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Full Article: Gableman report calls for decertifying 2020 election. The Legislature’s nonpartisan lawyers say that’s not possible. | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin GOP seeks more election oversight but faces likely vetoes | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republicans in the state Senate approved measures Tuesday that would change voting rules for those who are confined to their homes and allow lawmakers to cut funding for state agencies that they believe aren’t strictly following election laws. Those bills and others related to elections face likely vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers if they get to him. At least one of the bills the Senate approved Tuesday likely won’t get to the Democratic governor because of opposition from Republicans in the Assembly.  Senate Bill 214 would allow officials to begin counting absentee ballots on the day before election day. Election clerks have pushed for the idea for years to ease their workload and help them avoid reporting their results in the middle of the night. The Senate passed the bill 20-13, with Republican Sen. André Jacque of DePere joining all Democrats in opposition. Democrats have generally supported allowing absentee ballots to be processed before election day but didn’t like the particulars of the Republican-drafted bill. Despite the overwhelming support of the measure from Senate Republicans, their counterparts in the Assembly are reluctant to vote on it. “I’d say it’s unlikely at this point,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said of taking up the bill. Under the bill, election officials could begin processing absentee ballots starting at 7 a.m. on the day before election day. They could not tally the results or publicly report them until after the polls closed at 8 p.m. on election day.

Full Article: Wisconsin GOP seeks more election oversight but faces likely vetoes

Wisconsin elections officials debunk fraud claims at Capitol hearing | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

State election officials debunked several false claims about Wisconsin’s voter list Wednesday during testimony to a panel of lawmakers that had amplified the claims just a week earlier. Robert Kehoe, the technology director for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told legislators that the agency wasn’t offended by criticism of its WisVote system, which maintains voter records and helps the state’s more than 1,800 local clerks plan for elections. But Kehoe said other claims being made about the system were stunning and showed a lack of due diligence on the part of people making the accusations. “I believe it is important to address questions and concerns, in part to distinguish between genuine issues, worthy of our energy to address and falsehoods that cause us to waste countless hours chasing ghosts,” Kehoe said. “If we fail to make this distinction, then Wisconsin will have lost an opportunity to address real concerns while focusing on imaginary anxieties.” Much of Kehoe’s testimony was focused on rebutting claims made by Peter Bernegger, a New London resident who is leading his own review of the 2020 election. Bernegger, who was convicted of federal mail and bank fraud in 2009, was invited to speak to the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, led by state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls.

Full Article: Wisconsin elections officials debunk fraud claims at Capitol hearing | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Is Ground Zero for the MAGA Effort to Steal the Next Election | Andy Kroll/Rolling Stone

At 5:01 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, Tim Ramthun was sitting in his living room with the TV on when his cellphone rang. He turned to his wife of four decades, Carolann. “Oh, the president’s calling,” he told her. She scoffed. “Hello, Mr. President,” Ramthun said to the caller. “This is Representative Ramthun. May I help you?” Carolann still didn’t believe him, until she heard the voice on the other end and almost fell out of her chair. She started recording a video of her husband, a junior member of the Wisconsin state Assembly, receiving praise from the 45th president of the United States. Ramthun wasn’t surprised by Donald Trump’s call. A few weeks earlier, Trump had left a message on his work phone at the state Capitol at 6:30 in the morning. Trump had wanted to thank Ramthun for his continued efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, something Trump proceeded to do later that day in a written statement praising Ramthun for “putting forward a very powerful and very popular, because it’s true, resolution to decertify the 2020 Presidential Election in Wisconsin based on the recently found absolute proof of large scale voter fraud that took place.”

Full Article: The MAGA Laboratory for Autocracy – Rolling Stone

Wisconsin Republicans seek constitutional ban on election grants while Democrats seek ouster of elections commissioner | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Litigation of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election continued Wednesday as Republican lawmakers rolled out a constitutional amendment banning the use of grant money to administer elections while Democratic lawmakers called for a state elections commissioner to lose his job after pretending to be an elector for former President Donald Trump. The measures being put forward by Republicans are part of a nationwide effort to overhaul how elections are administered sprung from the convergence of false claims of significant election fraud by Trump and an influx of absentee voting and atypical election guidance due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, Democrats are focused on the actions of Republicans who submitted false paperwork claiming Trump won their state instead of Joe Biden, who actually received more votes in their states. In Wisconsin, two Republicans who pretended to be electors have been subpoenaed by the U.S. House committee convened to investigate how the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol materialized. Democratic Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee sent a letter signed by 13 colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu on Wednesday asking him to rescind his appointment of Robert Spindell to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans seek constitutional ban on election grants

Wisconsin: Election Systems & Software won’t comply with Republican subpoena | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

A Nebraska-based voting machine company told the Republican-hired attorney leading an investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin that it will not comply with subpoenas issued seeking a broad array of information. Attorneys for Election Systems & Software told former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in a letter dated Jan. 21 that it would not comply, calling the subpoenas issued last month a “quintessential fishing expedition.” The letter was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press after it was first reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gableman has subpoenaed the mayors of Wisconsin’s five largest cities, the state’s top elections official, an immigrant rights group, ES&S and Dominion Voting Systems as part of his ongoing probe ordered after President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the battleground state. Subpoenas to the elections commission, Voces de la Frontera and mayors of Green Bay and Madison are being fought in court. ES&S made clear it will not comply, telling Gableman in the letter that the company “is under no obligation to respond to any of the subpoenas.” The letter was signed by attorneys Michael Cox, Daniel Fischer and Michael Maistelman.

Full Article: Voting machine company won’t comply with Wisconsin subpoena | AP News

Wisconsin Senate candidate files lawsuits in Wisconsin over ballots and voting machines | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Democrat running for U.S. Senate filed a pair of lawsuits Tuesday alleging Wisconsin election officials aren’t keeping ballots secret in some cases and are not properly vetting voting machines. In one case, Peter Peckarsky asked a Milwaukee County judge to order the state Elections Commission to bar Milwaukee and other cities from marking absentee ballots with numbers that could reveal how individual voters cast their ballots. In the other case, Peckarsky is seeking to force the commission to more thoroughly scrutinize voting machine software. Most communities in Wisconsin count their absentee ballots at polling places, but Milwaukee and about three dozen other municipalities count theirs in one location. State law requires those that count them in one spot to write the poll list numbers of absentee voters on the back of their ballots. Both the ballots and poll list numbers are available under the state’s open records law. That could lead to members of the public figuring out how individual voters cast their ballots, violating the state’s guarantee of secret ballots, Peckarsky argues in one of his lawsuits. Whether that could actually happen is not clear.

Full Article: Senate candidate files lawsuits in Wisconsin over ballots and voting machines

Wisconsin election commissioners balk at GOP data request | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

Members of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission balked Tuesday at a massive request for voter data and other information by six Republican state lawmakers but did not order the request —deemed “insane” by one commissioner — be denied. Instead, the commission said the lawmakers should be told how much it would cost, how long it would take, and what information can’t be provided. Meagan Wolfe, the state’s top elections official, told commissioners it was “the most broad request we’ve ever seen.” Democratic commissioners said the Dec. 22 request was designed to grind operations at the elections commission to a halt, and frustrate and overwhelm those who work for the nonpartisan agency that is overseen by a bipartisan board. The request came from Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly elections committee, and five other Republicans. They have been leading voices in questioning President Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin, pushing conspiracy theories about the election and how it was run in the state. Some Republicans have even called for members of the commission to resign and be charged with felonies.

Full Article: Wisconsin election commissioners balk at GOP data request | AP News

Wisconsin: Top Senate Republican opposes effort to ‘dismantle’ elections agency | Shawn Johnson/Wisconsin Public Radio

The GOP leader of the state Senate said he does not support a major overhaul of the Wisconsin Elections Commission despite a push from some rank-and-file Republicans to dismantle the agency. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, also voiced support for Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, the outspoken chair of the Senate’s elections committee who has called for a swift end to an Assembly Republican investigation into the 2020 presidential election. Republicans created the Wisconsin Elections Commission in 2015 after they dismantled the Government Accountability Board, or GAB, that preceded it. The GAB came under fire from Republicans for its investigation into former GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign. Unlike the GAB, which was run by retired judges, the Elections Commission is run by a panel of three Republican and three Democratic appointees, a structure that has frequently led to 3-3 votes on high-profile disputes and issues. LeMahieu, who chaired the Senate’s election committee when the Legislature created the Elections Commission, said that while the 3-3 split can lead to gridlock, it also ensures that any guidance from the agency receives bipartisan support. “I think the Election Commission still might be a format that actually works,” LeMahieu said. “I would need to see a more superior way to do it before abandoning that.”

Full Article: Top Senate Republican opposes effort to ‘dismantle’ elections agency | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Gableman subpoenas election officials and city IT departments as GOP election review widens | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Republicans hit the state Elections Commission and municipal IT departments with subpoenas in recent days as part of their wide-ranging, months-long review of the 2020 election. The demand for records and testimony came days after a Dane County judge said she would issue a ruling in January addressing the validity of earlier subpoenas. That decision will provide initial answers on whether Assembly Republicans can continue to perform their review largely in secret. The latest subpoenas, dated Tuesday, were issued by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is overseeing the review of the presidential election for Assembly Republicans. Recounts and court rulings have confirmed Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes, and independent entities have found no evidence of significant voter fraud in the state. The latest subpoenas seek emails, logs of internet traffic, information about voting machines and data about individual voters. The scope of the requests suggest Gableman’s team plans to spend months more looking into an election that occurred over a year ago.

Full Article: Michael Gableman subpoenas election officials and IT departments

Wisconsin: ‘This is a charade’: Key Republican calls for end to election review | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republicans and Democrats alike Monday ripped into Wisconsin’s partisan review of the 2020 election, saying it was a baseless exercise that would needlessly damage faith in democracy. State Sen. Kathy Bernier, a Republican from Lake Hallie who leads the Senate Elections Committee, said the review by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is firing up people who don’t understand elections. “Mr. Gableman is coming to my county and I will attend that meeting along with my concealed carry permit, to be perfectly honest, because (the election review) keeps jazzing up the people who think they know what they’re talking about, and they don’t,” Bernier said. Bernier, who oversaw elections for 12 years as Chippewa County clerk, said Republicans are reacting to political pressure from former President Donald Trump. Their constant complaints about the election could ultimately hurt Republicans if they don’t believe results can be trusted, she said. “And so I think my advice would be to have Mr. Gableman wrap up sooner rather than later, because the longer we keep this up, the more harm … we’re going to do for Republicans,” she said. In response, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester issued a statement saying it was Democrats who were preventing Gableman from completing his work sooner. He did not note that much of Monday’s criticism came from Republicans and offered no timeline for when Gableman would finish his review. “The easiest way to wrap up Special Counsel Gableman’s investigation is to get the Democrats to cooperate,” Vos said in his statement. “Instead, invoking McCarthyism has been their only motive, trying to discredit the investigation rather than finding ways to improve the system and prevent fraud going forward.” Bernier made her comments during a panel discussion in the state Capitol. She was joined by Ben Ginsberg, who spent nearly four decades representing Republicans in election disputes, and Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Full Article: ‘This is a charade’: Key Republican calls for end to election review

Wisconsin: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes | Scott Bauer and Nicholas Riccardi/Associated Press

A group formed to support former President Donald Trump’s agenda is working with Wisconsin Republicans on a ballot measure that would bypass the state’s Democratic governor to change how elections are run in the battleground state. The effort represents a new escalation in the ongoing Republican campaign to alter voting laws in response to Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. It comes as Wisconsin has become the epicenter of this year’s voting wars, with Republicans trying to dismantle the election system they themselves put in place several years ago — and figure out how to do that with a Democratic governor still in office. The backing for a possible route around Gov. Tony Evers was revealed during a private meeting on elections hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advocates conservative policies to state lawmakers in voting and other areas. Trump’s former White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told attendees that his new organization, the Center for Election Integrity, was working with elected officials and business leaders in Wisconsin “to figure out the best path” around Evers, who has said he will block GOP-backed election measures. “We feel as though the governor can’t do anything about it and it will become law,” Gidley said in a recording of the session made by an attendee and obtained by The Associated Press. The strategy is similar to one already underway in Michigan. State Republicans there already are gathering signatures to place a measure on the ballot that would tighten that state’s voting laws, an effort to get around Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a similar bill that passed the GOP-controlled state legislature. But Gidley’s statement is the first indication of a Trump-tied group engaged in a similar tactic in Wisconsin.

Full Article: Trump-tied group pushing for voting changes in Wisconsin | AP News

Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

Republicans in Wisconsin are engaged in an all-out assault on the state’s election infrastructure, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state. The Republican effort — broader and more forceful than that in any other state where allies of former President Donald J. Trump are trying to overhaul elections — takes direct aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, an agency Republicans created half a decade ago that has been under attack since the chaotic aftermath of last year’s election. The firestorm picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the G.O.P.-led Legislature, turbocharging Republican demands for more control of elections. Then the Trump-aligned sheriff of Racine County, the state’s fifth most populous county, recommended felony charges against five of the six members of the election commission for guidance they had given to municipal clerks early in the pandemic. The Republican majority leader of the State Senate later seemed to give a green light to that proposal, saying that “prosecutors around the state” should determine whether to bring charges. And last week, Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, said that G.O.P. state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control of federal elections, claiming that they had the authority to do so even if Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, stood in their way — an extraordinary legal argument debunked by a 1932 Supreme Court decision and a 1964 ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. His suggestion was nonetheless echoed by Michael Gableman, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice who is conducting the Legislature’s election inquiry.

Full Article: Wisconsin Republicans Push to Take Over the State’s Elections – The New York Times

Wisconsin: University experts dissect Audit Bureau’s election report on GOP-led 2020 election investigation | Maggie Degnan/The Badger Herald

The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s report about the Wisconsin 2020 presidential election headed by state Republicans claims to have found issues with the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s administration of the election. The audit found inconsistencies in the administration of the 2020 election but no widespread fraud. The results of the audit are centered around first of two investigative reports Republican lawmakers have requested. Findings in the audit found four people may have voted twice out of over three million ballots total. Eleven people died before Nov. 3 and eight people with ongoing felony sentences may have voted. Test of voting machines found that 59 of 60 machines tested accurately counted ballots, though the one out of 60 was docked because of insufficient information about whether the machine worked or not. According to the audit, the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave guidance to election officials that were not compliant with state law. The audit cites examples such as WEC deciding election officials could adjourn for the night without counting all ballots and moved polling places not getting signatures from the Department of Transportation for people who voted online.

Full Article: UW experts dissect Audit Bureau’s election report on GOP-led 2020 election investigation · The Badger Herald

Wisconsin: Republican candidate sues state elections commissioners as Robin Vos says they ‘probably’ should face felonies | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Republican running for governor sued Wisconsin election commissioners Monday just as the Assembly speaker argued five of them — including one he appointed — should be charged with felonies. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who served in former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration when the agency was created and is running for governor in 2022, asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to declare illegal the commission’s guidance allowing ballot drop boxes, nursing home poll workers and consolidated polling places. The lawsuit was filed a day after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said members of the state elections commission “probably” should be charged with felonies over the guidance they adopted last year to ensure nursing home residents received absentee ballots by telling clerks not to follow a state law requiring poll workers to first attempt to visit the residents before sending out ballots. Kleefisch in a statement said her lawsuit would force the commission “to clean up their act prior to administering the 2022 election.” A spokesman did not respond to a request for an interview. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is facing fire from the people who created the bipartisan agency six years ago after a recent Racine County investigation determined one resident of a Mount Pleasant nursing home voted absentee in the 2020 election despite being ruled incompetent by a judge.

Full Article: Rebecca Kleefisch sues Wisconsin elections commissioners

Wisconsin judge orders Republicans to turn over records related to election review | Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A Dane County judge on Friday ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to turn over records within 10 days about a secretive review of the 2020 election that Republicans have been conducting since this summer. Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled the Rochester Republican and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel were required to release calendars, e-mails, internal reports and other documents maintained by the team conducting the election review. Bailey-Rihn accused Vos of trying to hide records by conducting a “shell game” that changed who was technically responsible for the records. She ordered Vos to turn over records that were created between May and late August. She suggested he’d given up his opportunity to argue he could withhold a subset of the documents because of attorney-client privilege or other reasons. She said he’d likely waited too long to make such arguments. “These need to be produced unless there is a darn good reason why not and I don’t see one at this point,” Bailey-Rihn said. The team reviewing the election has a taxpayer funded budget of $676,000 and is headed by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who claimed without evidence last year that the presidential election was stolen. Courts have repeatedly upheld Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Full Article: Dane County judge orders GOP to turn over election review records

Wisconsin election audit errors feed partisan spin — Michael Haas and Maribeth Witzel-Behl/Wisconsin State Journal

For decades, Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau served as an important check and balance, keeping politicians honest and financial books clean. It prides itself on being nonpartisan, independent and accurate. But the bureau’s recent “Election Administration” report fails to live up to that mission. Its erroneous analysis and consistent failure to include the complete story was a disservice to both election officials and the Legislature. The flawed report also predictably encouraged overreaction from legislators intent on continuing to sow unfounded doubt about the integrity of Wisconsin elections. The LAB’s errors and this overreaction can be largely traced to one fact. For the first time since the Audit Bureau’s creation in 1965, it did not allow the state agency which was audited — the Wisconsin Elections Commission — to review and provide feedback on the report before it was released. As a result, the audit contains embarrassing errors that could have easily been corrected. It also mischaracterizes Wisconsin’s election administration in dangerous ways. Its analysis and recommendations feed public perception and are likely to become the basis of misguided legislative proposals that are not connected to the facts.

Full Article: Election audit errors feed partisan spin — Michael Haas and Maribeth Witzel-Behl | Column | madison.com

Wisconsin: Racine County sheriff seeks charges for state elections commissioners | Molly Beck and Patrick Marley/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Racine County sheriff is recommending charges against five state election officials because they told clerks to bypass state law during the coronavirus pandemic and send absentee ballots to nursing homes instead of first visiting in person. Attorney General Josh Kaul blasted the move made by Sheriff Christopher Schmaling on Wednesday, calling it “a disgraceful publicity stunt” and “an abuse of authority.” Schmaling said Wednesday in a news release he wants Commissioners Marge Bostelmann, Julie Glancey, Ann Jacobs, Dean Knudson and Mark Thomsen to be charged with five separate crimes related to the incident, including felony charges of misconduct in public office and election fraud and three misdemeanor counts of being a party to a crime. Thomsen, Jacobs and Glancey are Democrats; Knudson and Bostelmann are Republicans. Schmaling is not recommending charges against staff of the Ridgewood Care Center or the local election clerks who oversaw absentee voting at the nursing home, which the sheriff alleges was handled improperly for eight voters. The announcement came a day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Racine County officials should charge a nursing home worker or local clerk if they believe election laws were broken at the facility but said he sees no reason to assume voting problems occurred at other nursing homes.

Full Article: Racine sheriff seeks charges for Wisconsin elections commissioners

Wisconsin elections commissioner says fellow Republicans are looking for a scapegoat after Trump’s loss | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

A Republican state elections commissioner says lawmakers calling for his resignation are looking for a scapegoat because Donald Trump lost Wisconsin. Dean Knudson made the comments Friday, a day after Racine County Sheriff Chris Schmaling accused him and other commissioners of committing felonies by telling election clerks to mail absentee ballots to nursing homes instead of visiting them in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knudson denied the allegation and questioned why Schmaling isn’t pursuing charges against anyone in Racine County if he believes fraud occurred. He said Republican lawmakers — some of whom he served with when he was in the Assembly — were wrong to ask him to step down. “Certain public figures in Wisconsin are under intense pressure to find someone to be the fall guy for Trump’s loss in 2020 in Wisconsin,” Knudson said. “It is the equivalent of losing the playoff football game and six months later still complaining about the bad call by the referee and insisting that they never officiate a game again. “There are a lot of individuals that are under pressure to try to find some explanation other than the obvious one.” Asked what that obvious explanation was, he said, “That (Joe) Biden got more votes in Wisconsin than Trump did.”

Source: Wisconsin elections commissioner says fellow Republicans are looking for a scapegoat after Trump’s loss