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Wisconsin election clerks confused by investigation email

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin election clerks react with a mixture of concern and confusion to the first investigation by a special investigator hired by Republicans to examine how the 2020 presidential election unfolded in the state of the battlefield.

Based on an Associated Press survey of 72 county election clerks, the lead investigator’s Monday email landed in junk records from at least seven counties and was not received by at least 10 others. Several people who obtained it flagged it as a security risk.

Clerks from at least six counties have said they will not forward the email to municipalities under their jurisdiction, as requested by investigator, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.

“If there was fraud, it was not in my riding,” Lincoln County Clerk Christopher Marlow told the AP. “We keep very accurate voters lists and we are diligent in our work. All of our voters are alive and have received one vote each!

Former President Donald Trump won Lincoln County with 61% of the vote in 2020.

The hindsight and confusion of clerks is just the latest twist from Wisconsin, where the Conservatives, encouraged by Trump, are ordering inquiries into the 2020 election. President Joe Biden won the state by just under 21,000 votes. .

Republicans have authorized a non-partisan Legislative Audit Office investigation, which is expected to be conducted this fall. A handful of Republicans, including the chairman of the Assembly Elections Committee, are pushing for a broader scrutiny similar to the much-ridiculed Arizona effort led by Cyber ​​Ninjas, a select Florida-based cybersecurity firm. to conduct the review.

Elections committee chairperson Representative Janel Brandtjen attempted to subpoena voting machines, ballots and other election data in two counties. But his request was rejected by both counties, citing state law that subpoenas had to be signed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to be valid.

Vos said he wouldn’t sign them.

Instead, Vos hired Gableman, at a cost of nearly $ 680,000 to taxpayers, to conduct another investigation.

But the beginnings are difficult.

Two retired police detectives Vos initially hired to help Gableman quit this summer, saying the job would take longer than they anticipated. Vos then revised the contract with Gableman, giving him the power to hire whoever he wants.

Gableman has previously visited Arizona and attended a conference in South Dakota led by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell where electoral conspiracy theorists gave presentations. Gableman is also consulting with Shiva Ayyadurai, a losing US Senate candidate who appeared in a film fueled by conspiracy theory and falsely claimed that a million ballots were destroyed in Massachusetts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Tuesday. .

The Gableman inquiry drew bipartisan criticism.

On Monday, an email signed by Gableman was sent to at least 23 of the state’s 72 counties, based on the AP’s tally. The email included an attachment to clerks, asking them to keep “all records and evidence” related to the 2020 presidential election. It also asks county clerks to share the email with more than 1,800 municipal clerks who organize elections.

Although Gableman’s name was in the body of the email and on the attached letter, the email itself was from a person named “john delta” at a address. The pdf attachment lists “Andrew Kloster” as the author. He is a former Trump administration official and a lawyer. Neither he nor Gableman responded to a request for comment.

The format of the email has raised concerns in several counties in Wisconsin.

“The sender was not the person who signed the email and a PDF attachment from an unknown sender is considered suspicious,” said Liz Otto, Green Lake County Clerk. “Our IT department advised to delete all suspicious emails and / or attachments. Since this email falls into this category, I have not opened it and will not forward it to any of our municipal clerks.

Trump won Green Lake County with 67% of the vote.

Ashley Reichert, the Washington County employee, said she received the email but would not open the attachment until her IT department verified that it was safe to do it. Trump won that county with 68% of the vote.

Clerks from the two largest counties of Milwaukee and Dane said Gableman did not understand how the elections worked because he requested information kept on voting machines, but all data is kept on memory cards and then loaded onto servers.

Trump lost in those two counties and says he confirmed Biden’s victory.

Several clerks objected to Gableman asking them to keep records that federal and state laws already require them to keep for 22 months after an election.

“To me, it was really a ‘nothing’ letter,” said Trent Miner, the Wood County clerk, who Trump won with 59 percent of the vote.