- The top Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor says she will eliminate the commission if elected.
- A Wisconsin sheriff recommended felony or misdemeanor charges for 5 of the 6 commission members.
- The commission lifted a requirement for voting deputies to visit nursing homes because of COVID-19.
In an attempt to overhaul the state’s election process, Wisconsin Republican officials are seeking to eliminate the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission and charge five of its six officials with felonies or misdemeanors related to the guidance they gave municipal clerks ahead of the 2020 election, The New York Times reported.
With less than a year before midterm elections, Rebecca Kleefisch, the top Republican challenger to Democratic Governor Tony Evers, has incorporated the termination of the state election commission into her platform, according to The Times. She filed a lawsuit earlier in the week against the commission, which was created by Republicans in 2016, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to declare that its guidance contradicts state law.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling echoed Kleefisch’s position and recommended felony and misdemeanor charges in early November against five of the commission’s six members because they advised clerks not to send trained poll workers to nursing homes during the start of the pandemic, according to Milwaukee-based ABC affiliate WISN-TV.
Schmaling also asked for a statewide investigation to be launched by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who called the move a “publicity stunt” and a “transparently political effort and an abuse of authority,” WISN-TV reported.
After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Wisconsin Republicans claimed that fraudulent votes were cast from nursing homes across the state as a result of a March 2020 commission vote, according to The New York Times.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission voted to lift a requirement for special voting deputies to visit nursing homes twice before issuing residents absentee ballots because facilities were not allowing visitors, The New York Times reported. No challenges to the guidance were raised at the time of the vote.
Still, Republican State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the commission lawless during a November 12 WKOW interview and said its members should “probably” face felony charges. Members of the commission released a statement in October maintaining that they had not broken any laws and that they may have missed the deadline to collect and count votes from individuals in nursing homes if they did not lift the rule.