Wisconsin fake electors trial set to start weeks before 2024 election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A trial in a Wisconsin lawsuit over the actions of 10 Republicans who posed as electors for Donald Trump in the 2020 election will take place in September 2024, just weeks before the next presidential election. Two Wisconsin presidential electors filed the lawsuit seeking to penalize the group of Republicans who falsely represented themselves as members of the Electoral College. The plaintiffs are also seeking damages and want the defendants barred from becoming electors in the future. The lawsuit claims that the Republicans engaged in a conspiracy to defraud voters and played a role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The defendants are accused of violating laws governing Electoral College meetings and acting as if they held public offices they did not. The trial will determine the outcome of the case, which has implications for future elections. Read Article

Wisconsin: As voting has gotten harder, organizers have found ways to help | Matt Mencarini/Wisconsin Watch

Despite Wisconsin’s consistently high overall voter turnout, there is a growing concern about declining participation among Black, Hispanic, and lower-income voters. Factors such as closed polling locations and underfunding of elections contribute to this decline. The Cost of Voting Index indicates a link between increased voting difficulty and reduced participation, although the impact varies across different groups. Interestingly, when voting becomes more challenging, it motivates Black voters to come to the polls. The presence of community organizers and local organizations plays a vital role in mobilizing voters and building trust. Governor Tony Evers has proposed various voting-related changes to improve accessibility, such as automatic voter registration, but these proposals face opposition from Republicans. BLOC, an organization dedicated to political engagement and voter education, prioritizes community involvement and plays an active role beyond elections. Read Article

Wisconsin: Bipartisan Bills introduced to Safeguard Election Workers and Enhance Election Protections | Mitchell Schmidt/Wisconsin State Journal

Members of the Wisconsin state Assembly elections committee have introduced a series of bipartisan bills aimed at making changes to the state’s elections. The proposals include added protections for election officials, restrictions on polling place closures, updates to military voting requirements, and reimbursement for certain costs associated with special elections. The bills represent a shift from previous measures that added restrictions on local clerks and were criticized for making it harder to vote. The bills will need to pass both Republican-controlled chambers before reaching the desk of Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Read Article

Wisconsin lawmaker who urged Pence to delay certifying the 2020 election is named to lead Senate elections committee | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Senate Republican leaders have drawn heavy criticism from Democratic members over the selection of their newest member, Senator Dan Knodl, to lead a committee overseeing elections. Knodl was one of the 15 Wisconsin lawmakers who asked then-Vice President Mike Pence to put off certifying the 2020 presidential results a day before a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president. Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard, a Democrat from Madison, said Knodl was unfit to oversee such legislation given his participation in the letter. Bernier, a former election clerk, believes Knodl likely signed the 2021 letter after getting caught up in the false claims swirling around the 2020 presidential contest but has since understood the reality of the election. Read Article

Wisconsin lawmakers unveil bipartisan election overhauls | Harm Venhuizen/Associated Press

Wisconsin lawmakers unveiled bipartisan plans on Thursday to address problems that have disrupted how elections have been administered in the presidential battleground state since 2020. Among other changes, the proposals would prevent last-minute polling site closures, better protect election officials and enact stricter military voting requirements to deter fraud. The bills add to a growing list of proposals from a group of Democrats and Republicans focused on making the state’s elections safer and more secure. Their efforts stand in stark contrast to bills put forth by GOP lawmakers during the last legislative session that sought to limit local clerks’ power and make it harder to vote. One of the bills announced Thursday would raise the penalty for intentionally harming an election official from a misdemeanor to a felony and prohibit public access to records containing an election official’s address. It would also protect election officials from losing their jobs for reporting suspicious activity and fraud. Elections and the people who run them have increasingly become the targets of threats and misinformation in recent cycles, with one in six election officials nationwide reporting that they had been personally threatened, according to a 2022 survey by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Full Article: Wisconsin lawmakers unveil bipartisan election overhauls | AP News

Wisconsin’s Judicial Election Tests Democratic Norms | Alice Clapman/Brennan Center for Justice

The results of Wisconsin’s 2023 election, shifting control away from the conservative majority after 15 years, have set up a critical test for Republicans and, more broadly, for that state’s democratic systems. As a nation, we should pay attention. Wisconsin has long been an example of one party solidifying its political power at the expense of democratic norms. For over a decade, Wisconsin Republicans have entrenched themselves in the legislative majority with two of the worst gerrymanders in the country, drawing districts that have yielded them legislative majorities wildly out of step with their actual share of votes in the state. In 2018, after losing both the governorship and the attorney general’s office, they called a special session to pass, in the literal dead of night, omnibus legislation stripping power from those offices, confirming 82 last-minute executive appointments, and making it harder to vote in future elections. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is far from alone in this respect: in multiple states, such as North CarolinaIowaMontana, and Alaska, Republican legislators have been stripping power from other democratically elected branches. And of course, both parties have engaged in gerrymandering, though not to the same degree.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s Judicial Election Tests Democratic Norms | Brennan Center for Justice

Wisconsin: Disabled voters say absentee law not followed | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

Disabled voters say local election leaders across Wisconsin are not following federal law during early voting in the high-stakes race for state Supreme Court, incorrectly telling them they can’t have another person return their absentee ballot for them. Absentee ballots, and who can return them, has been a political flashpoint in battleground Wisconsin, known for razor-thin margins in statewide races. The April 4 election will determine majority control of the state Supreme Court, with abortion access and the fate of Republican-drawn legislative maps on the line. Challenges to laws and practices in at least eight states that make it difficult or impossible for people with certain disabilities to vote have also arisen in the past two years. At the same time, there has been a push in many states to restrict rules affecting who can return absentee ballots. Wisconsin Republicans successfully sued last year to ban absentee ballot drop boxes, and the conservative-controlled state Supreme Court ruled that only the voter can return their ballot in person or place it in the mail. People with disabilities filed a federal lawsuit in response to the state court’s decision, arguing that federal law allows them to get assistance in returning their ballot. A federal court ruled in their favor in August, noting that the Voting Rights Act applies to Wisconsin voters who require assistance with mailing or delivering their absentee ballot because of a disability.

Full Article: Disabled Wisconsin voters say absentee law not followed | AP News

Wisconsin’s disabled voters face barriers amid ‘massive confusion’ | Alice Herman/The Guardian

As Wisconsin’s 4 April supreme court election approaches, disabled voters in the state are pushing elections officials to prioritize protecting the right to vote absentee and with assistance. “I always, always vote absentee,” said Stacy Ellingen, a Wisconsin voter who has cerebral palsy and requires assistance in voting. “If absentee voting wasn’t an option, I honestly wouldn’t be able to vote in most elections.” In February 2022, the Wisconsin supreme court ruled that voters must turn in their own ballots, making no exception for people with disabilities. Although a federal judge later clarified that voters with disabilities did, in fact, reserve the right to assisted voting, the temporary ban has generated lasting confusion at polling places and, in some cases, disenfranchised voters with disabilities. “Municipal clerks are telling people that they cannot accept ballots on someone else’s behalf, which isn’t true,” said Ellingen, who works as a social media ambassador for the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition. “This whole thing has caused massive confusion among the disability community and has led to some people not voting.”

Full Article: Wisconsin’s disabled voters face barriers amid ‘massive confusion’ | Wisconsin | The Guardian

Wisconsin judicial election could decide the next US president | Andy Wong/The Guardian

The Wisconsin supreme court election – which has been described as the most important election this year – takes place on 4 April, in less than three weeks, and is already the most expensive of its kind in US history. In this race, voters of color will once again be the key to electing a candidate who can safeguard our democracy. The question of whether Trump or another Republican election denier will have a second chance to try to disrupt a democratically decided election – and this time perhaps succeed – could be determined by this one judicial election in the midwest. Recognizing what is at stake, both sides have spent a staggering $27m so far on this race. The election will probably be tight and every vote will count. Wisconsin is majority white, at around 80%, but the state is also at least 20% people of color, according to census data. If Democrats fail to prioritize investing in mobilizing voters of color and inspiring them to turn out to vote, they may lose. Typically, this type of judicial election would barely register as a blip in Wisconsin, let alone gain this much national attention. But the stakes in this battleground state are sky-high, not only because Wisconsin’s future hangs in the balance when it comes to abortion, voting rights, redistricting and elections policy, but also because the judicial seat could be crucial to ensuring a fair presidential election outcome in 2024.

Full Article: This Wisconsin judicial election could decide the next US president | Andy Wong | The Guardian

Wisconsin: Election-denying donors pour millions into key supreme court race | Alice Herman/The Guardian

More than $3.9m has poured into the Wisconsin supreme court election from individuals and groups involved with promoting election disinformation and attempts to overturn the 2020 election, according to an analysis of campaign spending by the Guardian. The contributions, in support of the conservative candidate Daniel Kelly, come amid a race that has broken national campaign spending records. According to a campaign finance tracker by the Brennan Center for Justice, political ad orders for the liberal county judge Janet Protasiewicz and conservative Kelly have reached at least $20m in anticipation of the 4 April general election. The Wisconsin supreme court is currently made up of three judges who lean liberal and four conservatives. Whoever replaces the conservative retiring justice Patience Roggensack will determine the ideological composition of the court, which has been dominated by the right wing for 15 years. At stake in the Wisconsin supreme court race are redistricting, abortion rights, and voting rights and elections policy. And these decisions go beyond the state: Wisconsin has been a critical swing state in recent presidential elections, so its voting policies affect more than just state residents.

Full Article: Election-denying donors pour millions into key Wisconsin supreme court race | Wisconsin | The Guardian

Wisconsin: Bipartisan vote tracking measure brings parties together on elections | Ruth Conniff/Wisconsin Examiner

A Republican-authored bill with bipartisan support in the Wisconsin Legislature would allow voters to track the status of their ballots through text messages sent to their cell phones. Currently, absentee voters must log into MyVote, the Wisconsin Election Commission’s information portal, to make sure their ballots have been received by a clerk. Under Senate Bill 39, introduced by Sens. Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton) Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Kelda Roys (D-Madison) and Cory Tomczyk (R-Mosinee) voters who apply for absentee ballots can sign up for free text message updates letting them know when their ballots are received. The Secure Democracy Foundation, a national nonprofit group dedicated to building confidence in elections and improving voters’ access to the ballot box across the United States, applauds the Wisconsin measure. … Voters in 49 states including Wisconsin have some sort of ballot-tracking system, and at least eight other states use a system to actively notify voters about the status of their ballots, according to the group.

Source: Bipartisan vote tracking measure brings parties together on elections – Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin statewide audit shows no voting machine errors during 2022 election | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Voting machines counted ballots accurately during the November 2022 general election, results of a new statewide audit show. About 222,000 ballots, or 8.4% of the total number cast during the Nov. 8 election, were audited by county and municipal clerks in the weeks following the midterm election. The survey, the largest of its kind was released this week by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. It found six human-forced errors and no problems with the functioning of ballot tabulating machines. The results, part of a routine audit, come after years of baseless allegations of widespread instances of inaccurate voting machine tallies during the 2020 election launched by former President Donald Trump and his supporters. President Joe Biden beat Trump by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin in 2020. Trump sought recounts in liberal-leaning Dane and Milwaukee counties, which confirmed Biden’s win. Trump sued and the state Supreme Court upheld the results on a 4-3 vote on Dec. 14, 2020. Bob Spindell, a Republican commissioner, called the result “remarkable” in a commission meeting Thursday. “(The audit) should give confidence to the people of Wisconsin that the machines worked properly,” he said.

Full Article: There were no voting machine errors during 2022 election in Wisconsin

Wiscosnin: Racine at the center of election conspiracy universe | Henry Redman/Wisconsin Examiner

At the Nov. 30 meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), several people spoke during the public comment period to complain about how the recent election had been administered by the city of Racine. In early December, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a right-wing legal advocacy organization, filed a complaint against the city in circuit court for its use of a “mobile voting van” which allowed people to cast early votes at the van rather than going into the clerk’s office or other pre-determined site. The organization had previously filed a similar complaint with the WEC, which was dismissed. “Racine’s abuse of alternate absentee ballot sites circumvents multiple statutory safeguards on the collection of absentee ballots,” WILL deputy counsel Anthony LoCoco said in a statement. “The WEC Commissioners failed to take action and delegated the matter to the WEC Administrator who declined to enjoin Racine’s illegal behavior. Further, although WILL’s complaint was filed in August, the WEC Administrator did not issue her decision on the matter until in-person absentee voting for the 2022 general election was essentially completed which meant that WILL could not appeal the decision until after the November general election was over. We are confident that a court will put an end to Racine’s egregious practices.” In the two years since the 2020 election, the city of Racine and the surrounding area have become a hotbed of right-wing election-related activism.

Full Article: Racine at the center of Wisconsin’s election conspiracy universe – Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin’s midterm election results are certified with no fanfare after 2 years of histrionics over the 2020 vote | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin election officials for two years have taken fire from former President Donald Trump and supporters who believe Trump’s false claim that the Badger State should reverse the 2020 presidential election and question whether the state’s elections commission should keep its role in certifying vote tallies. But on Wednesday, in just about one minute and with no fanfare, the Wisconsin Elections Commission chairman certified the results of the first major election since the firestorm began. Chairman Don Millis’ certification of the reelections of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and the other election outcomes from the Nov. 8 midterm election marked at least a ceasefire in the two-year battle over how elections should be run and who should oversee them. Wisconsin’s quiet and orderly election certification creates a notable contrast with the state’s battleground counterparts in the Southwest and East, where some county officials in Arizona and Pennsylvania are refusing to certify election results after Democrats prevailed in races for governor and U.S. Senate. The smooth election outcome in Wisconsin also comes under increased scrutiny from a number of new poll observers recruited by political parties amid the false claims pushed by Trump over the security of the state’s elections.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s midterm election results are certified with no fanfare

Wisconsin man charged with terrorism in Election Day knife incident | Lawrence Andrea/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A West Bend man who police say entered a city polling place last Tuesday with a knife and demanded staff “stop the voting” had been arrested just days prior and was free on a signature bond for reportedly posting hand-written racist and threatening political messages downtown and sending photos of those notes to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Prosecutors in Washington County have since charged Michael J. Miecielica, 38, with more than 12 counts, including making “terrorist threats” and using threats to discourage voting — both felonies. He is also charged with endangering safety with the use of a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct, according to court records. Most of the charges stem from an Election Day incident in which Miecielica reportedly entered the West Bend Community Memorial Library with a hunting knife in an attempt to stop voting at the polling location inside. Body camera footage from the incident published by CBS58 shows an officer pointing his gun at a man in red pants and a maroon T-shirt with a gray backpack as the officer tells the man to “drop the knife” and get on the ground near the entrance to the library. “I have box cutters in my backpack, like four,” the man told officers in the footage. He also said he had three or four beers that day and that “I probably should have a psych (evaluation).”

Full Article: Wisconsin man charged with terrorism in Election Day knife incident

Wisconsin’s top elections official cautions against replacing the Wisconsin Election Commission | Sarah Lehr/Wisconsin Public Radio

Republican Tim Michels narrowly lost a race Tuesday to unseat Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. But some of Michels’ campaign promises could have lasting reverberations. Among them: his call to eliminate the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a bipartisan body that oversees how elections are run. But, in a post-election interview with Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show,” the state’s top elections administrator Meagan Wolfe told Wisconsinites they may want to think twice about replacing the Elections Commission. Wolfe praised the bipartisan nature of the commission, and the fact that’s its required to host public meetings. “Anytime someone contemplates changes to our structure, I think they need to consider the trade-offs that would be there,” Wolfe said in an interview that aired Thursday morning. “We do have this unique process where you can watch those decisions (get) made and those decisions are made in a bipartisan way.” During a campaign stop in Middleton days before the midterm elections, Michels told reporters he wanted to replace the Elections Commission with something called the “Wisconsin Election Integrity Group,” though he didn’t say how members would be appointed.

Full Article: Wisconsin’s top elections official cautions against replacing the Wisconsin Election Commission | Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin: Judge denies request to sequester military ballots following Milwaukee election official case | Sophie Carson Alison Dirr/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On the eve of Tuesday’s midterm election, a Waukesha County judge denied a request to block the immediate counting of military ballots, calling the step a “drastic remedy” but also chiding the Wisconsin Elections Commission over its guidance to municipal clerks. “I think I made clear in my questioning that I felt that that was a drastic remedy, that I felt that it was at least at a minimum a temporary disenfranchisement of our military voters’ votes to say, ‘let’s put them on hold and let’s figure out after the fact whether or not there’s bad votes cast,’” Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Maxwell said at the end of a two-hour hearing. The request from state Rep. Janel Brandtjen and a group that says it represents Wisconsin veterans came after three military absentee ballots arrived at Brandtjen’s home in the names of voters who do not exist. A Milwaukee election official was fired and criminally charged last week with requesting the military ballots using fake names and having them sent to Brandtjen’s home in Menomonee Falls. The actions of the former Milwaukee Election Commission deputy director, Kimberly Zapata, demonstrate “a vulnerability in Wisconsin’s military absentee ballot process,” reads a court document filed Friday by the Thomas More Society.

Full Article: Request to sequester WI military ballots ahead of midterms denied

Wisconsin lawmaker sues to stop immediate counting of military ballots | Patrick Marley/The Washington Post

A Wisconsin lawmaker who has been a frequent promoter of false election claims is suing to prevent the immediate counting of military ballots in her state after she received three ballots under fake names. The lawsuit, filed on Friday, was brought by a veterans group and three individuals, including Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), the chairwoman of the State Assembly’s elections committee. Last week, Brandtjen received three military ballots under fictitious names that were allegedly sent to her by Kimberly Zapata, a Milwaukee election official. Election officials have criticized Brandtjen for spreading false claims about the system, and Zapata later told prosecutors she was trying to alert Brandtjen about an actual weakness in the state’s voting system that should be addressed. Days later Zapata was fired and charged with a felony and three misdemeanors. Unlike most states, Wisconsin allows military members to cast ballots without registering to vote or providing proof of residency. Military ballots make up a tiny fraction of votes in Wisconsin — about 1,400 so far for Tuesday’s election.

Full Article: Wisconsin lawmaker sues to stop immediate counting of military ballots – The Washington Post

Wisconsin: Republican says party ‘will never lose another election’ if he wins | Martin Pengelly/The Guardian

The Republican candidate for governor in Wisconsin told supporters at a campaign event that if he is elected his party “will never lose another election” in the state. Tim Michels’ opponent next Tuesday, the incumbent Democrat Tony Evers, said the comment, which was released by a left-leaning group, showed the Republican was “a danger to our democracy”. Michels, a construction company owner, is endorsed by Donald Trump. He has repeated the former president’s lie that his defeat by Joe Biden in 2020 was the result of electoral fraud, and refused to say if he would certify results in a presidential election if he was governor and a Democrat won Wisconsin. In a debate with Evers last month, Michels did not say he would accept the result of his own election. He later said he would. Republican candidates in other swing states have cast doubt on whether they will accept results next week. Fred Wertheimer, president of the non-partisan group Democracy 21, told the Guardian this week: “There’s great danger that the Trump ‘big lie’ is going to spread to states all over the country. “If election deniers lose their elections by narrow margins we can expect that they will reject the results and refuse to accept them.”

Full Article: Republican says party ‘will never lose another election’ in Wisconsin if he wins | Wisconsin | The Guardian

Wisconsin clerks face challenges as voter skepticism becomes new reality | Jacob Resneck/WUWM

Oconto County Clerk Kim Pytleski has a series of colorful, hand-drawn posters in her office for the barrage of questions she fields from election skeptics, including one that reads, “Perception has become Reality!” “People are throwing skepticism and these comments out there, but they’re not doing the homework on what this really entails,” she said gesturing to a chart that lays out the chain of custody for ballots from the city, village and town polling places to her county’s vote counting center. With political polarization reaching a fever pitch, front line election workers are reporting novel challenges such as aggressive questioning of longstanding practices. And although violent threats have been rare, some clerks are offering crisis training — and stocking trauma kits — actions that years ago would have been unimaginable. “I have an ‘R’ after my name,” said Pytleski, a Republican, referring to her party affiliation for county clerk, a partisan office in Wisconsin. “That might protect me a little bit from some of the backlash that we are seeing. But … they know that the process is what I’m protecting and that I will defend it vigorously.”

Full Article: Wisconsin clerks face challenges as voter skepticism becomes new reality | WUWM 89.7 FM – Milwaukee’s NPR

Wisconsin judge won’t allow partial addresses on ballots | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday rejected an attempt backed by liberals to allow absentee ballots containing an incomplete witness address to be counted, saying that would disrupt the status quo and cause confusion with voting underway less than two weeks before Election Day. The ruling was a win for the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature, which intervened in the lawsuit. The case focused on how much of the address of a witness needs to be included on an absentee ballot certificate in order for the ballot to be counted. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has said that an address must include three elements: a street number, street name and municipality. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin sued, seeking a ruling that an address can only be missing when the entire field is left blank. Dane County Circuit Judge Nia Trammell on Wednesday rejected the league’s request for a temporary injunction that would have allowed ballots with incomplete addresses to be counted. Trammell said she feared that loosening the witness address requirement would “would upend the status quo and not preserve it” and also “frustrate the electoral process by causing confusion.”

Full Article: Wisconsin judge won’t allow partial addresses on ballots | AP News

Wisconsin: Who’s behind all the election administration lawsuits? | Elizabeth Pierson and Nicole Safar/Wisconsin Examiner

Over the past few weeks, months, and even years, dozens of challenges have been mounted to Wisconsin’s election laws and how our clerks run elections. A close look reveals that a small handful of conspiracy theorists and right-wing movement lawyers are driving these lawsuits and administrative complaints. These actors have clearly defined, antidemocratic interests that are not aligned with what most Wisconsinites want from their government. Who are these people so determined to block the will of the people and reshape our elections, and what do they want? … These right-wing lawyers and their funders have a clear agenda: if their public policies and candidates cannot win the contest of ideas in free and fair elections, they will stop at nothing to undermine free and fair elections. Their tactics are particularly bold considering that conservative Republican lawmakers actually built our election administration system. The Wisconsin Elections Commission was created under one-party Republican rule in 2015. In 2016, when then-candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election in Wisconsin, nobody from WILL or the St. Thomas More Society had any problem with the absentee voting process—the same process in place in 2018, 2020, and now 2022. Fast-forward to 2020 and then-Vice President Joe Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, and suddenly, the right-wing agenda favored by WILL and the St. Thomas More Society was in danger. So, they began to attack the very systems their allies had created.

Full Article: Who’s behind all the election administration lawsuits?   – Wisconsin Examiner

Wisconsin Elections Commission deadlocks on poll watchers | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission couldn’t agree Monday on what to tell the state’s local election officials about how to handle poll watchers, including where they can stand as people register to vote and check in to receive their ballots. The commission split along party lines, with all three Republicans in support of sending a notice to clerks attempting to spell out what the law allows. All three Democrats opposed it, resulting in a deadlock vote and no change. The issue came up less than a month after the commission voted to start the lengthy process of reviewing existing rules and writing new ones for election observers. Commission chair Don Millis said that given the process won’t be done until a year or more after the Nov. 8 election, he wanted to offer clerks clarity on the existing law now. The unprecedented recruitment efforts are the result of heightened election skepticism and have some local clerks worried about safety at the polls, especially because reports of intimidating behavior from partisan observers have popped up across the country since 2020. Millis and other Republicans on the commission argued Monday that clerks needed some guidance to address concerns about poll watchers. Millis called his proposal “very modest.”

Full Article: Wisconsin Elections Commission deadlocks on poll watchers | AP News

Wisconsin: Madison’s absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal but they’re staying put — as permanent artworks criticizing Supreme Court ruling | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Madison city officials have wrapped more than a dozen dormant absentee ballot drop boxes in art and criticism of a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling barring voters from returning their ballots anywhere but a clerk’s office or polling station. The drop boxes, once painted to resemble the capital city’s bright blue flag, have been transformed into permanent monuments against the court’s July ruling that arrived amid a two-year battle between city officials and Republicans who promoted former president Donald Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud. The boxes now feature the artwork of New York-based artist Jenny Holzer that includes Sojourner Truth’s “Truth is powerful and will prevail.” Madison city officials previously featured Holzer’s work in 2020 as part of a voter outreach campaign. “It’s really important for us to acknowledge that the state Supreme Court made a very bad decision and to acknowledge the Legislature has failed to act to make it easier and safer for people to vote,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “We do not want to remove the drop boxes in the wake of the state Supreme Court decision — I wanted to transform them to acknowledge what’s happening in this state and let them stand as a testament to the fact that the truth is powerful and will prevail.”

Full Article: Madison absentee ballot drop boxes criticize Supreme Court ruling

Wisconsin: Records from election probe to be made public | Scott Bauer/Associated Press

All records from the closed Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin are being uploaded to a website “for all to see,” an attorney told a judge on Tuesday. The investigation was led by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who was fired in August by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, just days after Vos won his primary over an opponent endorsed by Gableman and former President Donald Trump. But the office Gableman led still exists. American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, has filed four open records lawsuits against Gableman, Vos and the office seeking the records created during the investigation. On Tuesday, during a hearing over a lawsuit American Oversight filed to stop the deletion of records, attorney James Bopp said all electronic and paper records from the office have been turned over to the Assembly chief clerk’s office. The files are being uploaded to a website that will soon be available “for all to see,” said Bopp, who represents the office that he said has no employees. Hundreds of pages of documents have already been made public as the result of other American Oversight lawsuits. Bopp said the data yet-to-be made public that’s being processed now includes text messages on cellphones used in the course of the investigation.

Full Article: Records from Wisconsin election probe to be made public | AP News

In Wisconsin, Election Skeptics Deploy as Poll Watchers for Midterms | Alexa Corse/Wall Street Journal

Republicans here are recruiting a fresh batch of poll watchers to monitor voting in November as part of a revamped response to allegations of election fraud that roiled the latest presidential contest. Poll watching, a normally mundane duty where volunteers sit for hours watching for any possible rule violations at voting sites, is emerging as a flashpoint in the fight over U.S. election rules after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud cost him the 2020 race. The Republican National Committee said it has launched a multimillion-dollar effort to recruit tens of thousands of poll watchers and poll workers and hire dozens of staff to monitor voting. Many Republican voters are heading into the midterms still skeptical about the results of the 2020 election, and the Republican Party is encouraging them to channel those concerns into activism by volunteering to monitor the polls. Some Republicans view the effort as a way to ensure that Mr. Trump’s fraud claims don’t prompt supporters to skip the election altogether because of doubts about the validity of the process. Democrats are raising concerns that highly partisan volunteers could try to intimidate voters or election officials. Here in Brown County, Wis., the local Republican party says it has signed up more than 100 poll watchers and is working to recruit more volunteers. Mr. Trump won Brown County in 2020 with some 53% of the vote. Wisconsin flipped from supporting Mr. Trump in 2016 to being won by Democrat Joe Biden by about 20,700 votes in 2020.

Full Article: In Wisconsin, Election Skeptics Deploy as Poll Watchers for Midterms – WSJ

Wisconsin Elections Commission withdraws guidance on fixing ballot errors following court ruling | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday withdrew guidance clerks have operated under for six years to fill in missing address information on absentee ballots, a move to comply with a recent court ruling declaring such practices illegal. Commissioners voted 4-1 to withdraw the guidance hours after Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Aprahamian rejected Democrats’ motion to keep his Sept. 7 ruling from taking effect before the November election. Aprahamian ruled state law does not allow election clerks to fill in missing information on witness certification envelopes that contain absentee ballots, a decision that is expected to be appealed by Democrats who argued Tuesday that such rules should not change so close to an election. The ruling is a victory for Republican lawmakers who have spent months pushing for tighter voting rules since former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss to President Joe Biden, a contest decided by about 21,000 votes in a battleground state crucial to both parties’ pursuit of power. The decision, which comes two months before the next election, is likely heading to the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices.

Full Article: Elections Commission withdraws guidance on fixing ballot errors

Wisconsin judge bars election clerks from fixing absentee ballot witness certificates | Joe Kelly/Courthouse News Service

A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday ruled that guidance the state elections commission gave to clerks allowing them to fix errors on an absentee ballot envelope’s witness certificate was unlawful and preliminarily gave it one week to take the guidance back. Saying that “the state has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of the electoral process,” Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Aprahamian declared state law does not allow curing witness certificates, prohibited the Wisconsin Elections Commission from advising clerks they could do so, and gave the WEC until Sept. 14 to notify clerks its guidance on the matter is invalid and contrary to law. Though the practice has been allowed without major issue since 2016, it has been in Republicans’ crosshairs since more than 1.9 million absentee ballots were cast in the Badger State during the 2020 election, which resulted in Donald Trump’s narrow 21,000-vote loss to Joe Biden in the battleground. Wednesday’s decision is a victory in their recent concerted efforts to restrict all kinds of absentee voting protocols. The underlying lawsuit was filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court in July by the Republican Party of Waukesha County and three taxpayers, who claimed the practice of adding or altering information on witness certificates is not allowed under state law. The WEC — a six-member bipartisan board of commissioners appointed by state officials who then appoint an administrator for state Senate approval — in October 2016 issued a guidance memo saying a complete witness address on a certificate must contain a street number, street name and name of municipality. The commission gave clerks some options for corrective action if some information is missing, including adding a missing municipality or ZIP code.

Full Article: Wisconsin judge bars election clerks from fixing absentee ballot witness certificates | Courthouse News Service

Wisconsin: Judge admonishes Michael Gableman’s review of 2020 election | Lawrence Andrea/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For many months, former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s taxpayer-funded review of the 2020 presidential election that has not produced any evidence of substantive voter fraud “accomplished nothing,” according to a Dane County judge. Gableman didn’t keep weekly progress reports as required by the Wisconsin State Assembly.  He conducted no witness interviews. And he gathered “no measurable data” over at least a four-month span in 2021, the judge found. “Instead, it gave its employees code names like ‘coms’ or ‘3,’ apparently for the sole purpose of emailing back and forth about news articles and drafts of speeches,” Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington wrote in an opinion released Wednesday. “It printed copies of reports that better investigators had already written,” Remington added, “although there is no evidence any person connected with (the Office of the Special Counsel) ever read these reports, let alone critically analyzed their factual and legal bases to draw his or her own principled conclusions.”

Full Article: Judge admonishes Michael Gableman’s 2020 review of Wisconsin election

Wisconsin: Robin Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending a 2020 election review that’s cost taxpayers more than $1 million and produced no evidence of fraud | Molly Beck/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fired Michael Gableman on Friday, more than a year after he hired the former Supreme Court justice to probe the 2020 election and three days after Vos barely survived a primary challenge Gableman supported. Vos ended Gableman’s contract with the state that has provided a national platform and more than $100,000 in salary to Gableman over the last 14 months but has produced a review of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 loss that has promoted election conspiracy theories and revealed no evidence of significant voter fraud. The review has cost state taxpayers more than $1 million through costs for salaries and legal fees related to lawsuits filed against Gableman and Vos over ignored requests for public records. Vos did not respond to multiple requests from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for comment. He told WISN-12’s Matt Smith in an interview for UPFRONT that Gableman was sent a letter. “We did it through the process of the contract,” Vos said. “I really don’t think there’s any need to have a discussion. He did a good job last year, kind of got off the rails this year and now we’re going to end the investigation.”

Source: Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending $1 million review of 2020 election