The Republican Wisconsin Assembly speaker plans to hire retired police officers to investigate alleged irregularities related to November’s election in the Badger State.
There certainly can be no better use of state resources than to reassure citizens that their votes will be counted and counted fairly.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week investigators will be given a broad mandate to look into issues people have raised since the election such as clerks reportedly stepping in and curing absentee ballots that had errors and the use of private grants to governments in multiple Democrat-led cities to help turn out the vote.
“Is there a whole lot of smoke or is there actual fire? We just don’t know yet,” Vos said.
The findings will help inform the kinds of election integrity reforms the Republican-led legislature will seek to pass.
Vos said he expects the investigators will work in conjunction with an Assembly committee set up to review November’s election.
The investigators, who will be overseen by an attorney, can request that the legislature subpoena witnesses, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
“We need to have a fact basis to continue to show the public in Wisconsin that, number one, we continue to take these irregularities seriously, and that at the end of the day, the laws that we proposed are based on facts in addition to anecdotes,” Vos told the paper.
“I think there’s a much deeper analysis that can be done to say, OK, let’s give people confidence in the election, so at the end of the day, whatever happens in 2022, the election is held fairly and nobody looks at it after that election and says, ‘Wow, my side … lost and it was because of somebody else not doing their job,’” the speaker added.
The 2020 election was a wild ride, with Trump in a solid lead on election night only to see it evaporate by the next morning.
The Journal Sentinel headlined the day after the election: “A late night, race-altering results and a police escort were all part of a surreal election overnight in Wisconsin.”
“Milwaukee County’s lump-sum contribution turned the race on its side. To that point, Donald Trump held a lead of 109,000 votes over Joe Biden, but once Milwaukee County absentee and early-voting ballots were uploaded into the system, Biden took a lead of 11,000 votes,” the paper reported.
President Trump currently leads Joe Biden in Wisconsin by 109,074 votes.
Nearly 170,000 absentee votes in Milwaukee County are being counted RIGHT NOW. We should have the results around 3:45 a.m.
This could really all come down to Wisconsin
— Tim Elliott NBC15 (@TheTimReport) November 4, 2020
The Center for Tech and Civic Life apparently helped drive those huge absentee ballot numbers in Milwaukee and other cities.
The nonprofit, funded in part by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, gave $6.3 million in grants to Wisconsin’s five largest cities: Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine, according to The Associated Press.
The Center grants given nationwide totaled $250 million, the AP reported.
“Conservatives sued to stop the funding in Wisconsin, but lost in federal court,” the wire service added.
In March, the Wisconsin Spotlight chronicled that Green Bay received a grant of $1.6 million from the Center.
The report alleged that the “grant mentor” overseeing the Green Bay effort, Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, was given access to absentee ballots.
Spitzer-Rubenstein, Wisconsin state lead for the National Vote at Home Institute, has worked for several Democratic Party candidates in the past.
He “became the de facto city elections chief” in many ways, the Spotlight reported, based on emails obtained by Wisconsin lawmakers.
“The emails show Green Bay’s highly partisan Democrat Mayor Eric Genrich and his staff usurping city Clerk Kris Teske’s authority and letting the Zuckerberg-funded ‘grant team’ take over — a clear violation of Wisconsin election statutes, say election law experts,” the outlet reported.
In an Oct. 7 email, Spitzer-Rubenstein sought to assist Green Bay election officials in “curing” returned absentee ballots.
“Can we help with curing absentee ballots that are missing a signature or witness signature address?” he wrote to city clerk Kris Teske.
Teske turned down Spitzer-Rubenstein’s offer.
The mayor’s office then intervened.
“The grant mentors would like to meet with you to discuss, further, the ballot curing process. Please let them know when you’re available,” Celestine Jeffreys, Genrich’s chief of staff, wrote to Teske.
“I don’t understand how people who don’t have knowledge of the process can tell us how to manage the election,” Teske added in another email to a Green Bay official.
Teske apparently reached the end of her rope by Oct. 22 and announced via email she was going on leave, starting immediately, and indicated two members of her staff wanted to quit.
The pressuring of public election officials by outside groups is problematic, and if it was happening in all five cities that received grants, that’s trouble.
Here’s hoping Vos’ investigators have great success in their efforts and Wisconsin joins the ranks of states like Arizona and potentially Georgia in launching audits to more carefully review the ballots and confirm the election results are accurate.
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