State Watch

Wisconsin GOP report on 2020 race endorses fringe theory for decertifying election

A Republican investigation of the 2020 presidential race in Wisconsin said in a draft report Tuesday that the state legislature can decertify election results after the race is over, advancing a fringe argument at the heart of former President Trump’s argument to overturn the 2020 election.

The report by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is the culmination of his investigation into the presidential race two years ago. The probe was authorized by state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R). 

Gableman, who has pushed election conspiracies since Trump’s 2020 defeat, advocates for a slew of policy changes, including breaking up the state’s bipartisan election board. However, much of his report focuses on the legality he believes is granted to state lawmakers who desire to overturn President Biden’s win in the Badger State. 

“[I]t is clear that the Wisconsin Legislature … could decertify the certified electors in the 2020 presidential election,” he wrote. 

Gableman argues that such decertification could take place after two steps.

First, majorities in both chambers of the state legislature would need to approve a resolution declaring that the 2020 race was held “in violation of state law” in a way that rose “to the level that fraud or other illegality under Wisconsin law could have affected the outcome.” Then, the legislature would use its power to put forth a slate of electors that it believed “best accorded with the outcome of the election, had it been run legally.”

“This would lead to decertifying the relevant electors, if the Legislature concluded that they were not the slate of electors that best accorded with the election if run consistent with all relevant Wisconsin laws in effect on election day,” Gableman said.

The election results from Wisconsin and other states have already been certified by several counts.

The report marked the most significant development yet in Gableman’s probe, which has establishment backing in Wisconsin, though critics question his objectivity in his investigation.

Gableman, who served on Wisconsin’s high court from 2008-2018, has been a vocal supporter of the claim that the 2020 race was stolen – an assertion that has not been backed up by any substantive evidence. 

He reprised some of those attacks in his report, including a bipartisan effort to send and receive absentee ballots to and from nursing homes. He also harped on the conspiracy theory over grants sent to local election officials, including in five Wisconsin cities, that came from the elections nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life, which was created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Gov. Tony Evers (D), who was elected in 2018 and is running for reelection this year, slammed the report and called on Republicans in Madison to squash Gableman’s probe.

“This circus has long surpassed being a mere embarrassment for our state,” he said in a statement. “From the beginning, it has never been a serious or functioning effort, it has lacked public accountability and transparency, and it has been a colossal waste of taxpayer money.” 

“This effort has spread disinformation about our election processes, it has attacked the integrity of our clerks, election administrators, and poll workers, and it has emboldened individuals to harass and demean dedicated public servants,” he added. “Every day this effort continues it is an increasingly dangerous and ongoing threat to our democracy. Enough is enough. Republicans in the Legislature have always had the ability to end this effort, and I call on them to do so today.” 

On top of the criticism, the report recognized the practical limitations of a decertification effort.

“This action would not, on its own, have any other legal consequence under state or federal law,” Gableman wrote of decertifying the state’s electors. “It would not, for example, change who the current President is.”

The prospect of decertifying election results has been at the core of Trump’s attacks over the 2020 election, which he baselessly claims was marred by fraud.

“Everyone who loves America should be closely following today’s vital hearing in the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Election with highly respected former Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman,” Trump hyped in a statement as Gableman presented his report.

However, some senior Republicans in Wisconsin showed little appetite for putting any of Gableman’s recommendations into action. 

“I still maintain that the Legislature’s attorneys are correct on this,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, referencing the opinion from a nonpartisan attorney for the legislature saying that the door to decertification is closed. “I think the Legislature is largely united on this issue.”

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Zuckerberg Robin Vos Tony Evers wisconsin election audit
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