An effort by Republicans in Wisconsin to conduct an “audit” of the 2020 presidential race has the chance of becoming a more embarrassing affair than the Cyber Ninjas audit that took place in Maricopa County, Arizona, earlier this year.
The so-called audit in Wisconsin is unnecessary, as there is no evidence of widespread fraud affecting the outcome of the election. (President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by more than 20,000 votes in the statewide race.) Members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, including a Republican member of that panel, have gone on record to state that there were no instances of fraud whatsoever in the election.
A recount in the state’s two largest-populated counties found no voter irregularities or discrepancies in the final vote count.
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Efforts to get the courts to overturn the race were similarly thwarted by judges in the state, who noted that there was no evidence justifying such an order. Indeed, in one ruling by a Trump-appointed judge, the attempt to change the outcome was described as “bizarre.”
Yet, following demands from the former president made directly to Republicans in Wisconsin, the state’s Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed a former state Supreme Court judge and Republican operative named Michael Gableman to oversee a statewide audit of the results.
Ever since Gableman was appointed to lead the election audit, which will cost Wisconsin taxpayers at least $680,000 to conduct, he has made a number of glaring mistakes.
For example, Gableman sent out several subpoena requests to Wisconsin mayors, a number of which referred to the wrong cities. At least one of the officials who was subpoenaed by the former judge doesn’t even oversee elections in their jurisdiction. Typos were also present within the subpoenas that were handed out, including the misspelling of a Latin legal term.
Gableman later backed off on issuing the subpoenas, only to reissue them again.
The former judge’s appointment by Vos is itself controversial. Gableman, who is overseeing an audit that is being advertised as fair and impartial by Republicans, is a former appointment by Trump to the Justice Department who has explicitly stated that he believes in the “big lie,” falsely claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
Gableman has also hired an attorney who worked for Trump, Andrew Kloster, who has also claimed that the election was stolen. Kloster served as an election overseer in Green Bay, where he allegedly harassed and yelled at election workers last November.
Gableman’s bona fides have also been questioned. Although he served as a former judge on the state’s highest court, Gableman has admitted that he doesn’t have “a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.”
State Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has called for Gableman to resign and for Vos to “shut this fake investigation down” entirely.
“Frankly, no serious investigator would conduct an investigation under these circumstances, and no one should treat the results of this investigation as credible,” Kaul said in a statement earlier this week.
Some Republicans have also said that the audit being managed by Gableman needs to end.
“Hopefully, my fellow Repubs stop with this nonsense, and begin to focus on 2022 elections,” said Fond du Lac Republican Party chair Rohn Bishop, who added that the investigation is “alienating soft GOP voters” who see the audit as wasteful spending and inappropriate to conduct.
Most Wisconsinites likely share Kaul’s and Bishop’s sentiments, viewing the audit itself as completely unnecessary. According to polling from Marquette University in August, two-thirds of Wisconsin residents (67 percent) expressed feeling confident in the results of last year’s presidential race — a rate that exceeds national voters in some polls.