The cost of investigating Wisconsin’s 2020 election
June 16, 2021
In May, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired three retired police officers to sift through the results of Wisconsin’s 2020 election results. Now-President Joe Biden won that election in the state by 20,600 votes. This investigation follows up on the March 2021 resolution passed in the Assembly authorizing it. The Wisconsin Audit Bureau, a nonpartisan entity, will also investigate.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Speaker Vos revealed his actions were in response to complaints about election fraud received by state Republicans.
“Do I think there were irregularities?” Vos told AP. “I certainly do.”
The newly hired retired police officers will have subpoena powers and will be overseen by an attorney. Vos hopes to get the results of this investigation by the fall.
Although Vos and the Wisconsin GOP believe “irregularities” occurred during the 2020 presidential election, to date there is no proof of that, despite the complaints GOP lawmakers claim they received. Out of 3.3 million ballots cast in that election, state election officials identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud. Local district attorneys received those cases for potential prosecution. The AP obtained this information through Wisconsin’s open records law.
The 27 cases broke down like this:
- 16 had addresses at a LaCrosse UPS Store, although Wisconsin law requires that voters register using their residence address;
- four individuals voted both by absentee and in-person ballots;
- three individuals voted in two places;
- another voted by absentee ballot returned by their son but also voted in person;
- one was a convicted felon;
- one returned two absentee ballots; and
- one had been adjudicated incompetent but voted anyway.
Since ballot votes are secret in Wisconsin, it is unknown whether these 27 people voted Republican or Democrat.
The AP reported that these totals line up with past Wisconsin elections. For instance, in 2019, voter turnout was 1.2 million with just 15 cases of suspected fraud.
Despite this very low number of potential voter fraud cases, Republicans have persisted in promoting the idea of widespread voter fraud, citing this as the purpose of the investigation. While Vos has not released any information on the potential cost of this investigation, he has made one thing clear: Wisconsin taxpayers will pay for it.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission estimated that the election recount sought by Donald Trump in 2020 would cost nearly $8 million. The big difference between that and the current investigation? Trump would have paid for the recount, not Wisconsin taxpayers.
So why spend taxpayer money to examine election results that, Vos admits, are “in the rearview mirror?” Republicans in Wisconsin, as in other 2020 battleground states, have introduced more than a dozen bills to make absentee ballot voting more difficult as part of a Republican national effort to change voting laws post-Trump’s election defeat.
According the state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D), it has to do with promoting the “big lie” that Trump actually won the Wisconsin election, not Biden.
“Whatever excuse the Republicans have for massive fraud in Wisconsin, it’s just simply not true,” Erpenbach told the AP on May 21. “It’s all based on ‘the big lie.’ They need to stop spreading ‘the big lie.’”
And they need to stop spending taxpayer dollars to do it.