Sen. Kathleen Bernier, a former county clerk, declared her confidence in Wisconsin’s election processes as the committee she chairs held an informational hearing to dispel misinformation about how they’re run.
Meanwhile, during a call with reporters, former GOP New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman slammed what she called “bad faith efforts” to undermine Wisconsin’s election.
The Elections, Election Process Reform and Ethics Committee hearing and the call organized by voting rights advocates Wednesday came as Republican lawmakers continue with several reviews of the 2020 election. That includes the probe led by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman and one spearheaded by Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, through the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee she chairs.
During the Senate committee hearing, Brandtjen asked the panel made up of state and local election officials whether fake IDs can be used at polling places and if poll workers are trained to identify fake IDs.
Brookfield City Clerk Kelly Michaels confirmed that poll workers are not trained to identify fake IDs, but pointed out that the DMV checks voters’ IDs upon preregistration. Checks on voters who complete same-day registration are completed in the days after the election, Michaels said, but such an infraction would be noted as a voting irregularity and reported to the district attorney for investigation.
Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, said Wisconsin’s elections are not perfect, but expressed confidence in their processes.
“There is not a reason to spread misinformation about this past election when we have all the evidence that shows otherwise,” Bernier said.
Still, attendees further pressed election officials about election workers’ accountability.
Bernier asked Michaels how she builds a bipartisan staff at polling places. Michaels explained that she attempts to have an equal number of people from each party at polling places and tries to pair a Democrat with a Republican at key positions like the poll book.
“You never pair two of the same kind together,” Michaels said of those key polling place positions.
Michaels also said any election worker falsifying voters’ proof of residency is not fit to work at the polls and “should be fired immediately,” adding that she hopes that kind of action would be reported. Michaels also explained what would happen if poll workers were making duplicate ballots: workers would be notified of such an issue and toss the duplicate ballots from the count.
Chris Wlaschin, Election Systems & Software chief information security officer, assured Bernier that his company’s voting machines are secure. He said the machines are only designed to send out information rather than receive it. The few machines that have modems are inactive until after the polls are closed, Wlaschin said.
Election officials were also asked about voter accountability during the hearing, including whether people who died years ago, but have a record of voting, could be reactivated on the voter roll.
WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe said the deceased or anyone impersonating them would have to reregister to vote, something they can accomplish only through municipal clerks. Michaels added it’s important to keep a person’s voting record, including potential deaths, so she and other clerks can reference it when going through the registration process.
Whitman slammed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Brandtjen and Gableman for efforts she charged undermine Wisconsin’s elections.
Whitman during a virtual press call with members from League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, UW-Madison’s Elections Research Center, All Voting is Local and others warned proponents of an Arizona-like election audit are not taking the right steps to achieve an accurate view of the 2020 election results. She said they are playing partisan games with taxpayer dollars to win over just a small portion of potential voters who believe the election was stolen.
A staffer in Brandtjen’s office declined comment.
Whitman, who formerly served in President George W. Bush’s cabinet, added proponents of Vos’ or Brandtjen’s audit calls are “actively threatening the health of our democracy.”
All Voting is Local Wisconsin Director Shauntay Nelson said the election results were clear. She also questioned why Vos and Brandtjen are concerned only with the validity of Biden’s win in an election they also won, but don’t question the validity of their own wins.
Watch a video of the call: