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GOP congressional delegation: Restore trust in Wisconsin’s elections

The following is an op-ed on the need for election reform from Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Representatives Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, Bryan Steil, Tom Tiffany and outgoing Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.

Washington, D.C. — Wisconsinites have lost trust in our election system. Whether you agree or disagree with the many claims of election fraud, the fact is there are glaring problems with our voting processes that need to be fixed. Just as Florida passed election reform in 2001 after the 2000 election controversy, Wisconsin must do the same before any future election is held. This election reform should include, at a minimum, the following steps.

Step 1: Correct the voter rolls

First, Wisconsin must maintain up-to-date, accurate voter rolls so non- residents and deceased individuals cannot vote in Wisconsin elections. This was perhaps the Wisconsin Election Commission’s (WEC) biggest failure leading up to the 2020 election. Due to WEC decisions, tens of thousands of names of individuals that had moved remained on the voter rolls. Those registrations, at the addresses from which they had moved, should have been deactivated. The state legislature and the courts cannot allow WEC to continue this conduct which creates a substantial opportunity for voter fraud. If WEC will not comply with the law as written, then the law must be updated so that WEC has no wiggle room to make up the law as it prefers.  Also, we must clarify, in our state criminal code and in federal criminal law, that double-voting is illegal and demand elected District Attorneys enforce the law.

Step 2: Ban Ballot Harvesting

“Ballot harvesting,” where individuals or groups gather other people’s absentee ballots and deliver them to election clerks, is a dangerous idea and is ripe for voter intimidation. Technically it is already illegal in Wisconsin, but again WEC has failed to enforce the law as written. Instead, WEC issued guidance that permits ballot harvesting and allowing reckless partisans to exploit the guidance to conduct de-facto ballot harvesting events like “Democracy in the Park” in Madison, which additionally violated early voting timelines. Restoring trust in our elections means we all follow the rules we agreed to before the election, not altering the rules to benefit one side when voting has begun.

Step 3: Close the Voter ID Loophole

Wisconsin has strong, necessary voter ID laws, but a current loophole allows absentee voters to sidestep these requirements if they self-identify as “indefinitely confined.” Unsurprisingly, after liberal county clerks in Dane and Milwaukee counties encouraged voters to claim indefinite confinement due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of “indefinitely confined” voters in Wisconsin skyrocketed from 72,000 to over 200,000. The massive increase is not a result of age, physical illness, infirmity, disability (i.e. legitimate reasons for claiming indefinite confinement), or even coronavirus. Moreover, in a state where elections are frequently decided by just thousands of votes, to allow nearly a quarter of a million voters to vote without showing an ID invites fraud and skirts the obvious intent of the law.  We should close this loophole and require an ID in order to vote.

Step 4: No Midnight Ballot Dumps

On election night, after weeks of voting, many Wisconsinites went to bed thinking President Trump had won re-election, only to wake up to see that his 100,000 vote lead had disappeared when absentee ballots in largest cities were counted. Thirty-nine Wisconsin municipalities count ballots at a central location and consistently some of our most liberal cities return their ballots late in the night. Even if every one of those votes was a legal vote, counting in this manner often presents confusion and creates many questions in the minds of voters, campaigns, and the media.  Many other states have solved this issue and report absentee ballot counts on time.  We must find a way to avoid central counts coming in late, either with more manpower, disallowing central counts, or by allowing clerks to review and verify signatures without opening absentee ballots prior to election day.

Step 5: All clerks must follow the letter of the law

All clerks must follow the letter of the law and follow the same rules. A core tenant of fairness is to treat everyone equally. This is critical in our elections. We need consistent rules across the state and clerks must be required to follow them to the letter of the law. We can no longer allow some clerks to discard a ballot when a witness address is not complete and allow another to “cure” the ballot by filling in missing information. Failure to treat every voter the same allows clerks (who naturally have their own political preferences) to decide which ballots to “correct” and then count, and which ones not to fix. Our current practice means that the process can be different in different municipalities, and we all know different municipalities have different voting patterns.  What is needed are clear, consistent rules applied fairly and uniformly across the state.

Step 6: Eliminate confusion

Under current law, voters can request an absentee ballot at the beginning of the year for every election held in that calendar year. This practice has created confusion and misunderstanding for both voters and clerks. Many clerks have reported that voters forget (or do not realize) that they checked the box to receive a ballot for every election in a year. This has resulted in people showing up to vote in person who have already been issued an absentee ballot. These lost absentee ballots create the ability for fraud to occur and makes it difficult for clerks to keep accurate records on absentee ballots. At minimum, the law should allow voters to only request an absentee ballot for one primary and general election at a time.

Conclusion

Doing nothing and ignoring the legitimate concerns of so many Wisconsinites is not an option. Many of these reforms require state law changes. The U.S. Constitution rightly gives states the authority to conduct elections. As the Governor, State Senate and State Assembly work to make improvements, we believe the reforms should contain these key steps. We need a Wisconsin election reform law now, one that sets the new national standard for electoral integrity, transparency and simple fairness.

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27 thoughts on “GOP congressional delegation: Restore trust in Wisconsin’s elections

  • I agree with Debra! Get rid of the Dominion machines! I got one do not want to even vote in the next election! Why should we when it’s rigged!!
    This country of ours are messed up from all the big money people who think they know best. America is headed down the wrong road for sure!!

  • I thank the Congressman for reaching out to me and leaving a voicemail message for me. It’s too bad I missed this call as I would have loved to have a discussion. I would have stated that the conservatives in the state of Wisconsin (as well as the nation) can now thank all the establishment “Never Trumpers” for their complete destruction of the Republican Party as it now stands. They stood by comfortably without hardly a whimper while our cities burn, the police are told to stand down and then they cower like rabbits when their abode gets breached! I might add that there is plenty of video evidence that BLM and ANTIFA led the charge and goaded some MAGA Trump supporters inside too. Yes, the same MAGA ones that tried to stop the ANTIFA (disguised protesters) from damaging the US Capitol. It is there, all on video and cannot be denied. Nevertheless, what went on from there was the narrative that the President was to blame for inciting a riot, sedition, etc. etc… This was purposely performed to eliminate him from any 2nd term. In fact, the Republican establishment hated our President so much that guys like Senator Mitch McConnell pulled aside other US Senators to the side so they wouldn’t object to a Biden win! Really?? The GOP has repeatedly stabbed its constituency in the back and those that wouldn’t back President Trump’s legal challenges against a rigged election. Everyone knows that it was and that’s why over 1 million made their way to DC. The Trump brand gets demonized (and its 74M followers) so that DC can go back to “business as usual”? – The Swamp!
    As a 40 year conservative voter I say don’t ever expect another vote ever again as you’d rather hand us over to 1-party Socialist rule than protect the conservative movement. There are so many things that Republicans could have done differently but chose not to. So, I say to the Republican Party…. R.I.P.

  • Beyond all the rhetoric and suggestions on how we must “work” to “correct” the problems with this election system, the unbelievable corruption that took place put the most corrupt band of socialist in power and we sat back and watched it take place. My vote was wiped out by thousands of uncontested illegal ballots. I have voted in my last election, put up my last yard sign and donated my last dollar to any political candidate.

  • Good for you Michelle. For the most part these “reforms” are just more of the Republicans’ effort to suppress the vote in Wisconsin. I hope like heck that you’re right about the younger generation.

  • @Laurel L McCulloch Thank you for your support of the democratic process.

    Poll workers are our neighbors, are from our community, and work tirelessly to provide accurate election results. Their integrity has been unfairly impugned in this election cycle.

    Counting votes as they are received would facilitate earlier count completion and seems like a reasonable change. Fair districts and open primaries will hopefully encourage representatives to be responsive to all voters in their district instead of hyperpartisan minority, on both sides, who more reliably vote in primary elections. More democratic processes and greater participation will restore faith in elections.

  • this article is about what some of our U.S. congressmen would like to see done. We need to light a fire under our state representatives. With a republican majority in both houses there is no reason that some of these things can not be accomplished. I urge all who are concerned about election integrity to contact as many state lawmakers as possible and make your voice heard.
    By the way, wouldn’t it be nice if people would read the article before posting and write a post that pertains to the subject at hand.

  • Our erstwhile Governor, Scott Walker, along with the GOP dominated state legislature saw to it hat Evers would be severely hobbled in any attempt to undo the wrongs committed by them. A couple of examples are the inability to recoup the billions of dollars wasted on the phony Foxconn scheme pulled by Trump and Walker and the unconscionable pollution of of our waterways caused by Koch brothers paper enterprises. Also, Wisconsin farmers got stung badly by the tariff wars initiated by Trump. Other examples of state governmental mismanagement exist but there’s not room enough to enumerate them here.

  • Is it irony when one pushes for tougher laws for voters but does not follow the laws of his country when certifying an election? This question is for Representative Tiffany and Representative Fitzgerald?

  • The biggest frauds in Wisconsin are the gerrymandered congressional, state senate, and state assembly districts, designed by Republicans to maintain legislative control with a minority of voters. Until the Republicans agree to fair district boundaries, focusing on voting rules will do little to create a fair system.

  • Why would any self respecting individual not want 100 percent election integrity, it is not suppression, it favors no one, we need to put teeth in our process and remove all doubt. We
    need new and more people involved with the
    complete process. The election commission
    should put out the call for more volunteers.
    All laws should be strictly enforced.

  • I agree with everything you list above and it should be done now. No waiting so that there are problems in the next election. My Grandson purchased a home in Milwaukee and they listed 5 people living at that address. He told them he purchased the house and was the only person living at that address. I am aware of the fact that in our small village there are people listed that have passed or moved and yet are still listed as a resident of the village. This should be done within 4 weeks of a person moving or passing away. Also all states should have the same voting rules. This is necessary!!

  • I fully agree with what you are presenting to be done and it should be done right now. I am aware of the fact that voters who have moved or passed away are still listed as a voter in the district. My Grandson purchased a house in Milwaukee. They had 5 people listed living at his address. He told them he was the owner of the house and he was the only person living there. I also believe that rules for voting should be the same for every state. We should not have different rules for each state.

  • That all sounds good for Wisconsin. There also should be consequences if clerks do not follow the letter of the law. Disparate interpretations create equal protection issues which violates Article 2 of the US Constitution. I know on the federal level Tulsi Gabbard was promoting a “Secure America’s Election Act” that would mandate ballot chain of custody and an auditable paper backup. I don’t know if that would be federal government overreach but it does seem like a common sense way to help prevent fraud in the US.

  • End gerrymandering and turn the redistricting process over to a panel of retired judges and community members. Get the dark money out of our politics. Make robocalls illegal – they are an invasion of privacy and border on harassment. Make campaigns completely transparent about where their funds originate and how they are spent. Cut off fundraising 30 days prior to the election and publish a financial report no less than 7 days prior to election day. Strict penalties for non-compliance by campaign officials, candidates, and funders who won’t play by the rules. We need a level playing field in Wisconsin.

  • I have been a poll worker since 2014. This past year (2020) was a nightmare, due in large part to the pandemic but also due to the frequent changes in the rules and procedures. One very simple change that would have helped a great deal would be to allow clerks to tabulate the mailed in ballots as they came in, rather than on election day. We had four Badger Books at our polling place in Appleton. Two of them were being used for the mailed in ballots as well as the corrected ballots from Outagamie County until 6 p.m. Our lines were 1 1/2 – 2 hours long all day.

  • Stacey Abrams crafted a plan, implemented it and reaped a huge voter gain in GA for the Dems. Wisconsin’s Republicans can learn from the other side!
    CHALLENGE:
    *Let’s get busy Wisconsinites and knock on doors in EVERY community and “plant the seeds”.
    *Let’s push for term limits in our state and hope that it spreads. 12 years is the maximum number of years for any Senator or Representative to be in DC. Their time in Washington DC should be considered temporary not permanent.
    *Join the Republican Party of Wisconsin and work together with other like minded people to better define what we stand for.
    *Share it with those that don’t know that honesty over political gain is possible and imperative for our country to continue as a Democracy.
    #12 years max #Honesty Wins #Dan Crenshaw inspires

  • Misconduct in public office charges must be filed and followed to full extent of the law. Any election official that misadvises or ignores the laws concerning election procedures needs to go to jail.

  • The only thing I see here is an already gerrymandered state looking to suppress the vote further. You think this is some grand conspiracy when in fact on a national level republicans have won one election by popular vote, 2004. You are afraid if it is easier to vote more people will vote and you know that is not good for republicans because you are in the minority. You are grasping for power because you know it is slipping away. So instead of appealing to a larger electorate you would like to use fear, suppression and conspiracy theories to maintain power. The good thing is that our children, Gen Z, are watching and are appalled at what they see. So grab power now because our progressive children will be even more scary to your future. They see your manipulation and call it unfair, wrong and unjust. You are motivating them to run for office and get involved. They want fairness for all not for some.

  • until accountability and punishment are restored none of this will matter. Why are we not arresting wrong doers? We have laws that are being ignored every day, why?

  • The actions seem right but the federal game may be over without some drastic action that President Trump might take. He is a fighter and I can’t say that about our state leadership who didn’t fight hard enough to stop the fraud we saw coming. The game is over unless we have a miracle. In the mean time try to fix the problems you listed. Remember they won’t give up the only way they can win.

  • I am ashamed that our great state of Wisconsin is involved in this terrible voter fraud. I believe this would not have happened if we had other than Tony Evers as our Governor. I’m sorry his 2020 recall didn’t make it through, but there will be another and we’ll look at our Republican officials as well. We were not happy with their interest and help during our re-call attempt. Bottom line, anyone can see this election was not fair. We need honesty and fairness and all the American people want to trust our elected officials with the job we sent them to DC to do; work for us, the American people. You’re all on notice and we will retain our country and our elected officials will serve our country as they stated when they took their oath. We’re coming after all of you that do not do your job.

  • All fine as far as it goes but is all future based. I think the most effective way to prevent abuse on the next election is convicting wrong doers on this election. Can a legal rep step up and represent disenfranchised voters in key counties and across the state to file appropriate complaints and see perpetrators brought to justice, or not?

  • How about getting rid of the Dominion voting machines that switched votes from Trump to Biden? I watched all the hearings on voter fraud and I’m thoroughly disgusted. The whole presidential election was nothing but total fraud. Biden did not win. Not by a long shot. If this isn’t fixed, there’s no point in even pretending to have an election. You also need to get rid of section 230. Google taking down video’s that don’t fit their narrative. Facebook and Twitter doing the same. People have a right to the truth and all these platforms are hiding it. Something needs to be done about the fake news, also. Anybody with a brain that does a little research or watched any of the hearings on voter fraud knows there was tons of fraud, but fake news “debunks” it and people are blind enough to believe them. They shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves “news.” Actually, they should be arrested for misleading the American people on so many levels.

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