Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Friday he plans to hire more investigators and anticipates allowing more time for a probe into the 2020 presidential contest for Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes, the Associated Press has reported.
The official vote count in Wisconsin last November put Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump by 20,682 votes. The margin was just over 0.6 percent of the nearly 3.3 million votes cast statewide.
What Vos called “indisputable evidence of irregularities” spurred calls for legislation to ensure greater election security. Earlier this year, Vos helped usher through the legislature a package of reforms toward that end. They included strengthening voter-identification requirements, revising standards for ballot collection and forbidding anyone but the voter of a ballot to make corrections to that ballot. Governor Tony Evers (D) vetoed the reforms.
One facet of Wisconsin’s 2020 elections that has received public scrutiny is the $6 million paid to localities in the state by the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), a nonprofit funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Green Bay and other liberal communities receiving funds from CTCL—all told, about 2,500 across the nation—have allegedly permitted the administration of their elections to be partly usurped by partisan Democratic professionals. A September 2020 letter from Whitney May, CTCL’s director of government services, promised Green Bay city clerks that one of the organization’s workers “can take on any election tasks that you assign.”
In addition to agreeing to pay $44,000 to former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to lead the state’s election probe, Vos originally wanted the Badger State to commission three retired police officers to perform investigative duties for $3,200 a month each. Two such officers signed contracts in June to fill such roles, but Vos said both ended up quitting because they felt so few officers working on a part-time basis would be insufficient to handle a case of this scope.
Vos said he intends to give Gableman as many personnel as the former justice determines are necessary for a thorough examination of the election proceedings. The speaker said he foresees the investigation concluding in the fall.
According to the Associated Press report:
The move comes amid growing calls from former President Donald Trump and other Wisconsin Republicans for a broader audit. Vos announced the move just three days after he said a fellow Republican lawmaker who was calling for a ‘forensic audit’ was misinformed about the work already underway.
Vos said plans to change the investigation he ordered had been underway for a while, after Gableman came to him and said a more robust effort was needed with investigators who could work on it full-time. Though he didn’t set a budget, Vos said it would be reasonable to spend several hundred thousand dollars on it.
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Wisconsin Democratic Party executive director Nellie Sires called it a ‘sham investigation.’
‘The fact will remain that the 2020 election was free, fair and conclusive,” she said in a statement. “It’s time for the Speaker to end the charade and start telling the truth.’
The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau is also conducting a review of Wisconsin’s 2020 election procedures and results, also with a goal to wrap up this autumn.
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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].