Michael Gableman is not a secret Democratic double agent, but he certainly acts like one. Mr. Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, was hired by the GOP Assembly to investigate the 2020 election. Last week, he contested an extension. At this rate, Republicans in Wisconsin could keep trying to overturn the 2020 presidential result until Election Day 2022 or 2024.
Their priority should be beating Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Six months from November, his GOP challengers are set to hammer on Covid lockdowns and inflation. “Do I think the election was rigged from the start against Donald Trump?” former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch said on a radio show last week. “Yes absolutely.” Mr Gableman called on lawmakers to “consider the option of decertifying the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin”.
Which option ? Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes for President Biden were counted on January 6, 2021. There is no mechanism to override them. A “decertification” resolution is akin to a voter shouting at the end of the bar at 2 a.m. that their 2020 ballot is hereby void.
Mr. Gableman has already released his report, which includes both points of concern and red herrings. He cites a handful of examples of care home residents who voted while allegedly incapacitated. In one case, the family “provided copies of this resident’s signature against the signature on the absentee’s envelope, and they don’t match.”
Manipulation of the elderly occurs. In February, an employee of a Michigan nursing home was sentenced to 45 days in jail, plus probation. She allegedly forged signatures on ballot applications for residents who had not requested to vote. If it happened in Wisconsin, it should be continued. Still, it’s tricky: Only a judge can strip a Wisconsin resident’s franchise. Even people under guardianship can have the right to vote.
Wisconsin’s approach to this thorny issue is to have special voting deputies (SVDs) who oversee mail-in votes at nursing homes. But when Covid hit in 2020, these facilities banned visitors. The state’s bipartisan Election Commission voted to suspend sending SVDs to nursing homes. Mr Gableman says it was illegal and allowed abuse. Perhaps, although the commissioners defended it as an open public decision to avoid disenfranchising older people.
Gableman’s report claims that at many unnamed nursing homes, including in Milwaukee County, 100% of registered voters voted. Is it true? He does not show his work. The Milwaukee City Chief of Elections says the true figure for his area is 79%, with some facilities as low as 36%. Kenosha says there were 458 registered voters with addresses at residential establishments and 388 ballots.
Sheriff Racine investigated a 200-bed nursing home and 42 votes, including eight from allegedly incompetent people. But that doesn’t look like a coordinated plan to help Mr. Biden. “If a resident could only tally the ballot,” said an interviewer, “that’s what the facility employee would tally.” To give an idea of the scale, the state election commission says that in 2016 there were 17,176 total SVD votes. Mr. Trump lost in 2020 by 20,682.
Mr. Gableman recaps GOP complaints about private funds being sent to local election offices in 2020 by a nonprofit linked to Mark Zuckerberg. In Wisconsin, most of the money went to five cities. This practice should be prohibited, as formal voter education can easily lead to push-to-vote campaigns for some constituencies. But the courts said it was not illegal. Mr. Gableman’s claim that the nonprofit grants constituted “voter bribery” is overstated.
It targets ES&S voting equipment, which may include wireless modems. “One municipality,” the report claims, “admitted that these machines had these modems and were connected to the Internet on election night. The reason given was to “pass data” on votes to county clerks. In Green Bay, Gableman claims, the ES&S machines “were connected to a secret, hidden Wi-Fi hotspot.”
ES&S disputes almost every syllable. “Green Bay’s voting machines do not have wireless capability,” the company says. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, ES&S scanners use modems to transmit unofficial results on election night. Yet they “do not connect to the public internet, but instead use private network configurations specifically designed for high-security applications.” The final and official counts later “are physically uploaded to the election headquarters”.
Republicans have valid gripes about how the 2020 election went. But it’s not hard to figure out what upset Wisconsin. Many voters, including Republicans, did not want four more years of Mr Trump’s antics. In some suburban neighborhoods, 10.5% of Mr. Biden’s voters chose the GOP for Congress. This beats the evidence of voter fraud detected by all who watched.
Mr. Trump lost Wisconsin in 2020 all by himself, and if Republicans keep chasing ghosts, he will help them lose in 2022 as well.
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