In February, the state legislature ordered the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau to complete an audit of Wisconsin’s 2020 General Election. The scope of the audit includes a review of the “performance and methodology of each WI electoral jurisdiction’s voting system and its error rate, including absentee voting” and the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC)’s “handling of compliance review complaints against election officials” as well as “Administrators’ and municipal clerks’ compliance with Wisconsin’s elections laws.” There is an expected completion date of fall 2021.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos recently gave additional authority to subpoena witnesses and hired retired Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) to investigate credible tips of election irregularities. Vos stated he hired the LEO’s because he “noted the controversy surrounding the Maricopa audit” and “wanted to prevent a similar situation from unfolding in Wisconsin.” Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman was appointed to oversee the LEOs.
The local Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Vos “understands Biden is president and there is no way to redo the election.” Even though Biden won Wisconsin by less than 1%, Vos stated, “We need to have a lot of due diligence looking into the concerns that people have about the election, but nothing’s going to change.” WI State Journal reported Vos as saying, “A sizable chunk of people believe the election was illegitimate. And democracy cannot flourish if both sides don’t believe in the end both sides had a fair shot.”
Donald Trump issued a statement on June 25 regarding the WI audit and its leadership:
“Wisconsin Republican leaders Robin Vos, Chris Kapenga, and Devin LeMahieu, are working hard to cover up election corruption in Wisconsin. They are actively trying to prevent a Forensic Audit of the election results, especially those which took place in Milwaukee, one of the most corrupt election locales in the country. Don’t fall for their lies! These REPUBLICAN “leaders” need to step up and support the people who elected them by providing them a full forensic investigation. If they don’t, I have little doubt that they will be primaried and quickly run out of office.”
Kapenga responded to Trump in a letter. He began by noting that it is an honor to be publicly named by a United States President, and told Trump “…The power of your pen to mine is like Thor’s hammer to a Bobby pin.” Kapenga went on to say:
“Nevertheless, I need to correct your false claim against me.“
“…Your recent press release stating that I am responsible for holding up a forensic audit of the Wisconsin elections… could not be further from the truth… long before your press release, I called the auditor in charge of the election audit that is taking place in Wisconsin and requested a forensic component to the audit… This leads me back to your press release. It is false, and I don’t appreciate it being done before calling me and finding out the truth.”
Trump has not mentioned the subject in subsequent statements on his website donaldjtrump.com/news.
Nonprofit groups like the Mark Zuckerburg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) have also been a part of the ongoing investigations and legislative hearings. These nonprofits have given grant money to influence the way elections are run in major metropolitan areas of Wisconsin. The Journal Sentinel reported money from CTCL went to over 200 municipalities across the state, including over $6 million to its five largest.
Vos was reported as saying the investigation needs more signed affidavits from witnesses of election day observations and says the investigators have both subpoena power and power to grant immunity, though no power to bring criminal charges. He added:
“If we have independent investigators go out and find the data and clearly show why the election laws need to be changed, I think Gov. Evers will be forced to listen. And if for some reason he doesn’t, then we will have a fact-base to show the electorate … that we need to change the guy… if he’s not willing to listen to the facts.”
UncoverDC has reported on the bills in the WI legislature that aim to change state election law. Some have passed and will soon be up for consideration by Governor Tony Evers. Evers is expected to veto the bills and has said he will not sign legislation that makes it harder to vote. One has been signed by Evers, however, resulting in some increase in transparency for WEC meeting minutes.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the WEC to invalidate its advice on the use of ballot drop boxes. The suit asks the court to clarify that absentee ballots in WI can only be cast through U.S. mail or delivered in person to the municipal clerk, saying unstaffed, temporary drop boxes are not a “municipal clerk” as the law requires. The case is summarized here.
In Mueller v. Jacobs, the plaintiff was represented by Amos Center for Justice and Liberty and sought an injunction preventing certification of the election, saying Mueller’s “fundamental right to vote and have a safe, free, secure, and transparent election was compromised and tainted.” Similar to the WILL suit above, the argument was that the use of the ballot boxes was based on an interpretation of a law that was illegal. As Amos Center states on their website, “Wisconsin Supreme Court Denied Mueller’s Petition… however, the three minority justices joined in the following dissent: ‘This court cannot continue to shirk its institutional responsibilities to the people [of] Wisconsin.‘”
Mueller v. Jacobs was the case in which the notorious Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias intervened on behalf of the DNC and cited Vos and fellow Republican Scott Fitzgerald:
“Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald publicly emphasized that they ‘wholeheartedly support… use’ of ‘authorized drop boxes’ [as] especially appropriate for emergency use during the COVID-19 global pandemic.”
Of note, WI State Representatives Janel Brandtjen, Rachael Cabral-Guevera, Dave Murphy, and Chuck Wichgers visited the Maricopa County, Arizona audit in June to learn best practices.