Certain elements of the Republican Party continue a worrisome and relentless effort to subvert fair elections around the country and put in place partisan election officials.
The latest serious case comes in neighboring Wisconsin. GOP officials there are pressing a nonpartisan state election leader to resign because they didn’t like the outcome of the last presidential election. They’re looking to change an election system they put in place themselves years ago, and they seek to oust Meagan Wolfe, the state elections director with 10 years experience at the agency and a nationally recognized leader in election integrity.
She was appointed by the bipartisan election commission in 2019 and confirmed unanimously by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate to a term ending in 2023. Now they want to remove her and install their own partisan election director.
After Republicans failed in their attempt to overturn Wisconsin’s vote through lawsuits and recounts, they turned their attention to Wolfe, blaming her for instructions she gave to state election officials on how to handle the expanded need for mail-in ballots during the pandemic. She also refused to support the false narrative of the election being stolen from Trump.
This follows a nonpartisan audit that suggested changes to election procedures but did not come up with any evidence of widespread fraud or abuse and did not question Joe Biden’s win in that state.
Ten GOP legislators have called for Wolfe’s resignation even as a nonpartisan group of 50 election officials from across the country have written a letter of strong support for her competency. The election experts wrote in a letter to the Wisconsin Legislature that Wolfe was “one of the most highly-skilled election administrators in the country.” Wolfe will soon become president of the National Association of State Election directors and currently serves as the chair of the national Electronic Registration Information Center.
Wolfe remains steadfast in her determination to remain in office, saying attempts to pressure her to resign only stiffen her resolve.
And the pressure will mount. The Legislature is concocting another investigation into election issues, raised by the Racine County sheriff who argues members of the bipartisan election commission should be charged with felonies for sending mail-in ballots to nursing homes during the pandemic as visitors restrictions were in place. And Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is urging state election officials to take control of federal elections, something not allowed by federal law.
All of this has led election experts to point to Wisconsin as command post in the battle to dump fair and nonpartisan election systems. Wisconsin is “ground zero for the anti-democratic movement,” said David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research.
Minnesota, like Wisconsin, has long had a reputation for professionally run, fair and auditable elections. What’s happening in Wisconsin is a warning for every state, showing powerful partisan forces are a threat to free and fair elections.
Such political takeovers of elections result in a loss of confidence in voters. And without voters, democracy won’t exist.