Wisconsin’s top battleground election official set for renewal vote amid GOP calls for resignation

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The future of Wisconsin’s top election official was up for a vote on Tuesday amid Republican calls for the state’s nonpartisan Election Commission administrator to resign over the way she ran the contest 2020 presidential election.

The vote on Meagan Wolfe’s reappointment could determine who is in charge of elections in a battleground state so tightly divided that four of Wisconsin’s last six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point. Wolfe has strongly defended the decisions she made and fought against false allegations of voter fraud, including those made by former President Donald Trump.

“When your constituents challenge you on the integrity of Wisconsin’s election, tell them the truth,” she wrote to lawmakers days before the vote on her reappointment. “When people perpetuate false claims about our electoral systems, push them back publicly. Election officials cannot shoulder the burden of educating the public about elections alone.

The decision on Wolfe’s future rests with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, whose six members are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, leaving open the possibility of a split by party. A partisan standoff could trigger months of uncertainty over who will oversee elections in the swing state.

A recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court would apparently allow Wolfe to continue as trustee, even after her term ends on Saturday, until a replacement is named.

Wolfe has served as the state’s election administrator since 2018 and has become one of the nation’s most respected election leaders. She defended her record in a letter to state lawmakers, while calling on commissioners earlier to vote for the option they believe offers the most stability for Wisconsin’s election, even if it isn’t. not her.

“Nothing replaces my decade of experience handling Wisconsin elections at the state level,” she wrote in a letter to local election officials.

The nominee by the Elections Committee will need to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Some Republican state senators have already vowed to vote against Wolfe, who has argued with them numerous times over election conspiracy theories. If an appointed commission is rejected by the Senate, the commissioners must make a new appointment within 45 days or a Republican-controlled legislative committee could choose the next administrator.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu did not say on Tuesday whether he would support Wolfe’s confirmation or rejection, saying the Senate is waiting to see if the committee will vote to reappoint her.

The committee’s vote comes as a divided GOP struggles to move past the election lies that Trump and his supporters have promoted since his defeat by President Joe Biden in 2020. Republican lawmakers in states across the country have sought to expand their control over elections in recent years, and far-right candidates have won seats in local government with platforms grounded in electoral skepticism.

But overall, election denial has hurt the GOP. Most of the candidates in 2022 in swing states, including Wisconsin, who supported reversing Trump’s defeat lost. A draft Republican National Committee report obtained by The Associated Press earlier this year examining the party’s performance in recent elections called on candidates to stop “relating to previous elections.”

In Wisconsin, the 2020 election result withstood two partial recounts, a nonpartisan audit, scrutiny by a conservative law firm, numerous state and federal lawsuits, and a review ordered by Republicans who found no evidence of widespread fraud before the investigator was fired. The GOP-controlled legislature rejected attempts to decertify the results.


Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report.


Harm Venhuizen is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Harm on Twitter.

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