Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

Wisconsin is lagging behind other swing states in shoring up election policies following 2020 chaos

By 37ci3 Mar18,2024

Four years ago, Donald Trump’s home state was Wisconsin the nearest annul the election results.

A series of lawsuits aimed at invalidating hundreds of thousands of mostly Democratic votes in the landmark battleground state sought to take advantage of certain election policies related to early and limited or disabled voters, as well as ballots cast in the state. staff completed certain missing information on the envelopes.

The effort went all the way to the conservative-led state Supreme Court, which ruled by one vote against Trump’s bid to overturn the results.

And again, on the way to the next presidential elections, MPs Wisconsin did little to prevent a similar scenario from happening again in a close race situation.

State lawmakers failed to pass any measures to clarify the nuances of absentee ballots, which Trump, now the Republican nominee in 2024, is trying to use. They also lack the loopholes that would allow allies of the former president to inject conspiracy theories and disinformation.

And the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which oversees elections in the state, has issued modest guidelines but remains riddled with partisan attacks and efforts to impeach its top official.

All of this is in contrast to other swing states that are also being targeted by Trump allies after the 2020 election. In Michigan, Democratic lawmakers enacted sweeping reforms to election security and ballot counting. And in it PennsylvaniaThe Democratic governor recently created an election security task force designed to reduce threats to voting this year.

But in Wisconsin many of the same hurdles, questions, and gray areas—about boxes, disabled and elderly voters, ballot processing, and perhaps most importantly, protecting an election watchdog apparatus inundated with threats and attacks—remain unresolved and plague election officials. and guards in the province.

“Statewide, I don’t see much change,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, the top elections official in Wisconsin’s second-most populous county. “Nothing dramatically different happened here,” added McDonell, a Democrat.

Jay Heck, executive director of Wisconsin, the state arm of the nonpartisan government watchdog group, added that if the right mix of circumstances occurs on or after Election Day, the consequences could be dire.

“It could all explode,” he said.

The ‘constant drumbeat’ of missed calls

The lack of activity relative to other major states is largely the product of two dynamics.

Unlike Michigan and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin’s election administration is decentralized. While Michigan and Pennsylvania have a single office—the secretary of state—with the ability to step up election security efforts and respond to real-time threats, Wisconsin’s six-member bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission oversees elections.

But the commission is also in a bad state. In addition to being bombarded with conspiracy theories and threats by election deniers, his chief officer, Megan Wolfe, the state’s top election official, faced endless threats of impeachment and removal from office. The ongoing attacks have hampered the commission’s efforts and could contribute to further potential chaos during the election period.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Legislature has blocked numerous bills introduced by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that would cover many different aspects of elections, including the different directions of elections. one this would allow ballots with missing or incomplete information to be counted.

Republicans blocked another bill that would have authorized election officials to start looking at mail-in ballots before election day — a measure that would speed up the 2020 vote count in the densely populated and heavily Democratic districts of Madison and Milwaukee, where Trump allies have pointed to the slow counting of mail-in ballots as a sign of fraud.

Republican efforts to block bills like this have largely been the product of deep rifts within the party over whether and how to overcome Trump’s electoral denial. A major Republican in the state Senate stopped After the ballot preprocessing bill, for example, was introduced by an outspoken Trump ally and election denier questions about it.

And despite finding a highly publicized investigation backed by Trump allies in the state no evidence of abuse or wrongdoing Republican lawmakers have voted several times during or after the 2020 election bills of exchange – face to face only vetoes Evers — which experts fear will limit his ability to vote.

Together, that amounts to “a constant drumbeat of undermining confidence in our system,” said McDonell, who called the lack of legislative action “very troubling.”

The future of ballot boxes, a vital component of the Covid-hit 2020 election, also remains uncertain in the state.

State Supreme Court He decided in 2022 the use of most of the boxes was unconstitutional. In the years to come, state officials are left with guidance on how and when voters with disabilities and physically frail senior citizens will be allowed to rely on others to help them vote. fuzzy and bad reportedaccording to experts.

But now the liberal-dominated court, said last week that he would reconsider the decision.

Polling experts like Heck said it was a rare bright spot. But he and others have also warned of other possible changes favored by Trump allies that could further weaken election security in the state.

For example, Wisconsin’s April 2 primary will ask voters to decide on two proposed constitutional amendments that critics say are the byproduct of conspiracy theories advanced by election deniers.

Voters will be asked to decide whether to amend the state constitution to ban “the use of private funds in the administration of elections.” After the 2020 election, Trump’s allies dismissed claims that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had donated millions of dollars to groups helping his campaign administration offices. It was just a front by the tech mogul to help Biden.

Another question will ask voters to decide whether “only statutory election officials may perform duties in the conduct of primaries, elections and referendums.” Critics say Wisconsin law already clearly defines who qualifies as an “election official” and the amendment would unnecessarily narrow the number of people who qualify.

“[Passage of these amendments] will likely leave election clerks throughout Wisconsin without the resources to run elections smoothly,” Heck said.

Democrats are eyeing a new state Supreme Court

The picture in Wisconsin is markedly different from the battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, where incumbent Democrats have recently taken a number of election-related actions.

In MichiganGovernor Gretchen Whitmer A law was signed last year package of electoral bills It was passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The new laws expanded voter registration, toughened criminal penalties for intimidation of poll workers, instituted rules on the use of artificial intelligence and deep spoofing in political ads, and strengthened and clarified the election certification processes used by Trump allies after the 2020 race as part of their efforts . cancel the results.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Josh Shapiro last month Created a Task Force on Election Threats to save 2024 votes on a battlefield free from interference, misinformation and other major obstacles.

Facing myriad threats after the 2020 election, the bipartisan effort led by Republican Secretary of State Al Schmidt includes 10 government agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The purpose of the task force is to coordinate plans, share information and intelligence, reduce threats to elections, protect voters and election workers, and ensure voters have accurate information about their elections. Shapiro, too, has a politically divided legislature automatically signed the order last year Registered everyone with a driver’s license in Pennsylvania to vote.

Wisconsin Elections Commission spokeswoman Riley Vetterkind noted that in a “difficult environment,” the agency will begin 2020 to “facilitate the use of voting materials, increase public participation and understanding of the election system, conduct a significant amount of election-related litigation, and increase the scope of post-election audits of voting equipment.” giving timely instructions to local election officials regarding the promotion of an administrative rule that will more clearly define the rights of election observers.”

But some Democrats aren’t too worried about the lack of action on that front, saying the best hope to avoid a repeat in 2020 is a new liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Trump’s efforts to overturn Wisconsin’s 2020 election results were ultimately thwarted by a 4-3 state Supreme Court decision in which one of the court’s four conservatives at the time sided with the court’s three liberals.

But the April 2023 election gave the Liberals control of the technically nonpartisan seat for the first time in 15 years.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said, “The best safeguard against unconstitutional nullification of elections because Republicans refuse to do anything is to have a Supreme Court that believes in democracy in our state.”

“Now we have it. We’ve never done that before,” Wikler said. The Republican Party of Wisconsin did not respond to questions about the impact of the court’s composition or efforts to make elections in the state more secure.

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By 37ci3

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