Republicans, election experts say Wisconsin investigation flawed

Former Republican officials and election experts say GOP-ordered inquiry into Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election lacks credibility, transparency, and raises security risks and legal issues

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson said the ongoing investigation in Wisconsin, like the one in Arizona, is part of campaigns of disinformation and threats against democracy.

“Clearly these are bad faith efforts, not fact-finding missions but rather political stunts to keep the 2020 election lies alive,” said Whitman, who served in the cabinet. of former President George W. Bush. Grayson, who is also a Republican, said now is the time to build confidence in the election, not to spread conspiracy theories.

“I am worried about the future of election security and the future of the Republican Party,” Grayson said. He and Whitman spoke on a conference call hosted by the non-partisan States United Democracy Center, which advocates for free, fair and secure elections.

Yet Republicans questioned many aspects of the 2020 election but produced no evidence of widespread fraud while calling for a broader “forensic audit”. To date, only two people out of 3.3 million votes cast in Wisconsin have been charged with voter fraud.

Wisconsin Republicans ordered a review by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Office, which was due to release its findings this fall. But under pressure from conservatives for a broader review, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to conduct a separate investigation.

Gableman, a Conservative, has a budget of $ 676,000 to hire investigators and do data analysis on election results. It remains to be seen what form this data analysis will take and whether county leaders would release sensitive information without a court order.

Gableman told a crowd of Trump supporters in Milwaukee in November that “Our elected leaders – your elected leaders – allowed unelected bureaucrats from the Wisconsin Election Commission to steal our vote.” , and he attended a symposium in South Dakota hosted by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, which included presentations by advocates of electoral conspiracy theories.

Election officials in Milwaukee and Brown counties last week rejected subpoenas issued by Assembly Elections Committee Chairman Rep. Janel Brandtjen, demanding access to the ballots and at the voting machines. The subpoenas were not signed by Vos or the Chief Clerk of the Assembly, as required by law, leading the county election clerks to reject them.

Brown County District Attorney David Hemery also raised concerns about steps that would be taken to ensure the security of all requested information. Republicans’ efforts to question the outcome of the 2020 presidential race have led to violations of the voting system that election security experts say pose an increased risk for future elections.

The United States United Democracy Center released a memo on Wednesday comparing the Wisconsin investigation to the largely discredited audit in Arizona led by Cyber ​​Ninjas, a small Florida-based cybersecurity firm chosen to lead the review.

“We should not allow unqualified, hyper-partisan actors to mock official electoral procedures and cast doubt on our democracy,” wrote the bipartisan group co-chaired and founded by Whitman.

Neither Vos nor Brandtjen have any experience in administering official audits or counting ballots, which raises more safety concerns, according to the report.

Vos and Brandtjen did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Whitman said the goal was to instill mistrust in elections so that legislatures are empowered to change election laws and allow overturning of results in 2022 and 2024 that they don’t like.

“It is a real threat to our democracy,” she said. “It’s happening all over the country. It’s not something that just popped up.

Also on Wednesday, lawmakers and staff were invited to a briefing hearing convened by the Republican chairman of the state Senate election commission where local election clerks, Wisconsin election commission staff and others were to detail their role in the conduct of the elections.

The hearing convened by State Senator Kathy Bernier was billed as an “educational presentation” and comes as election officials denounce a wave of disinformation about how the Wisconsin election is going.

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