Republicans on the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections are making demands for information regarding the state’s voting rolls and who had access to them, given the unprecedented involvement of partisan groups in the election process.
In a Dec. 22 letter, committee chair state Rep. Janel Brandtjen and five other members called for the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Meagan Wolfe, to turn over several pieces of information.
“We are concerned that Wisconsin’s voter rolls and voting system remain secure, protected and accurate,” the lawmakers wrote.
Brandtjen sought to know on what servers voter identification data are stored and the type of database used to manage it.
She also asked to know who designed and built the database, who had access to it and all affiliated logs and registries.
Further Brandtjen sought “all changes to the status of every voter, active and inactive” contained in the state’s seven million records.
“Such logs, registries and other records must specifically show the time and date a voter is registered in the Voter Identification Database and Statewide System, who registered the person to vote and each and every status change of every voter when turned inactive, reactivated and or turned back inactive,” the lawmakers added.
One of the controversies that arose from the 2020 election is what role advocacy groups like the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which reportedly received large financial contributions from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, played in Wisconsin’s five biggest cities: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Racine and Kenosha.
In March, the Wisconsin Spotlight chronicled that Green Bay, for example, received a grant of $1.6 million from the center.
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The report alleged that the “grant mentor” overseeing the Green Bay effort, Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, was given access to absentee ballots.
Spitzer-Rubenstein, the 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 allegedly 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 Teske, according to the outlet.
Teske allegedly turned down Spitzer-Rubenstein’s offer.
The mayor’s office then intervened, the Spotlight reported.
“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, allegedly 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 wrote in an email to a Green Bay official, according to the outlet.
Teske apparently reached a breaking point by Oct. 22, 2020, and announced via email she was going on leave, starting that day.
Did a similar scenario play out in the four other cities receiving grants?
In light of reports like this, backed by email correspondence, Brandtjen’s committee wants the Wisconsin Election Commission to also “provide an exact copy of the API code or software that allowed any and all private, for-profit, non-governmental, non-profit, political party or any type of lobbying or advocacy group to directly access WisVote, MyVote or any other part of the Statewide System or the Voter Identification Database at any time during the years of 2020 and 2021.
“Please also provide logs, registries and any other records of the times and dates any or all of these parties accessed the Statewide System or the Voter Identification Database, or any other data system operated or controlled by the State of Wisconsin in 2020 and 2021.”
Speaker of the Wisconsin state Assembly Robin Vos has tapped Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice, to lead an investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin.
Gableman has issued about 70 subpoenas to state entities and employees, special interest groups, private companies, mayoral staffers and IT departments, throughout Wisconsin to obtain records, depositions and more information on the election process and organizations that seem to have had a hand in the administration of elections.
The special counsel is specifically looking into how city mayors, clerks and staffers might have been influenced by the $8.8 million in grants the Center for Tech and Civic Life reportedly divvied out.
President Joe Biden carried Wisconsin in the 2020 general election by approximately 20,700 votes, a state former President Donald Trump had prevailed over Hillary Clinton in five years ago by 22,750 votes.
The 2020 election in the Badger State was a wild ride, with Trump in a solid lead on election night only to see it evaporate by the next morning.
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 Milwaukee 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.
It was the drastic post-election night changes in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia that caused there to be such distrust, particularly among Republicans, in the 2020 results.
A poll released this week by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that 71 percent of GOP voters do not believe Biden legitimately defeated Trump. Further, only 54 percent of independents consider Biden the rightful winner.
If a large swathe of citizens does not have confidence in the election results, our constitutional republic is in peril.
The lawmakers in Wisconsin are doing a much-needed public service in investigating what took place in 2020.