Bipartisan Group Raises Concerns With Wisconsin Election Investigations

A bipartisan group, including Republican politicians, and advocacy groups raised concerns Wednesday with two 2020 election investigations in Wisconsin. 

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman and former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, both Republicans, said an effort spearheaded by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and an inquiry backed by state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, threaten the health of democracy by undermining public faith in elections.

“It’s clear that these are bad faith efforts, not fact-finding missions, but rather political stunts to keep the lies about the 2020 election alive,” Whitman said Wednesday on a call with reporters. 

Whitman, who has been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump’s false claims about 2020 election fraud, compared both investigations to the controversial election audit conducted in Arizona earlier this summer, saying all the efforts lack credibility and transparency and are “plagued by security and legal concerns.” A group founded by Whitman released a memo Wednesday drawing parallels between the efforts in the two states. 

Grayson co-authored a critical analysis of the Arizona election audit earlier this summer, which called out things like inconsistent procedures, insufficient security, false public allegations and problematic contracting. He agreed with Whitman’s contention that some of the same problems are emerging in Wisconsin. 

“These actions make our elections less secure and ultimately make our country worse off,” he said on the same call.

Advocates from the groups All Voting Is Local and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin also echoed those concerns. Shauntay Nelson, state director of All Voting is Local, said the Wisconsin investigations are “designed to revisit the 2020 election” and encourage the spread of misinformation.

“We deserve leaders who are focused on governing, not those who are obsessed with an election that happened nine months ago,” she said Wednesday.

Vos and Brandtjen didn’t immediately respond to WPR requests for comment. 

In addition to the investigations led by Vos and Brandtjen, there is also an ongoing audit being conducted by the Legislature’s nonpartisan audit bureau. That inquiry was ordered by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Previous required state audits, a partial recount and numerous lawsuits failed to uncover any evidence of widespread fraud or wrongdoing in the election. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, local clerks in Wisconsin referred just 13 allegations of suspected fraud in the November 2020 election to district attorneys. Nearly 3.3 million votes were cast in the state.

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes — a margin similar to several other razor-thin statewide elections in recent years.