[Waukesha, WI] – Republican candidate for Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is announcing her plan to create a new Office of Election Integrity & Public Trust within the state Department of Justice as a part of her plan to secure Wisconsin elections.
Without question, the confidence in our elections has been severely damaged. In 2020, we saw election processes changed in violation of the law. The changes appeared to benefit one political party, giving fuel to the concern that the system cannot be trusted. Unlawful guidance was issued when rules were required. These changes and outright violations of the law have been documented in state and independent audits.
“Gov. Evers and the Democrats have no interest in following the law because the illegal changes benefited them,” said Kleefisch. “We need a referee with law enforcement powers and clear duties to oversee those administering our elections so the public can regain its faith in our electoral process. As Governor, I will take action to restore trust in our elections.”
Creating this office with clear statutory responsibilities will provide greater oversight of our elections and teeth to enforce the law against violators. What we have today is an agency that issues guidance that they, themselves, determine is or is not legal.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) is refusing to follow the law. This agency is clearly broken and must be dissolved. Part of repairing this breach of public trust is creating a watchdog to ensure that election officials are strictly following the law as intended by the Legislature.
Kleefisch’s proposed Office of Election Integrity & Public Trust within the Department of Justice will be responsible for the following:
- Law enforcement powers to investigate and prosecute credible election-related complaints. Multiple audits identified concerns with WEC’s complaint process. The public should know they will be heard. Complaints shouldn’t be quietly discarded by partisans and agency staff.
- Ensure election administration officials are complying with all applicable election laws to ensure uniformity of voting rules across the state.
- Oversee election law and assist with the enforcement of open records law and open meetings law. The Department of Justice currently has the Office of Open Government created by former Attorney General Brad Schimel. Election law oversight will fit well with current open government functions at DOJ.
- Take over audit functions currently under the WEC and expand auditing both before and after an election. The office will have forensic auditors to assist not only the new office, but local District Attorneys and law enforcement in their enforcement actions.
- Certify voter rolls are clean and accurate. The office will ensure the newly-empowered election agency is using all available information to make sure our voting lists are as up to date and as accurate as possible. No one should go to the polls worried that illegal voting is taking place because we aren’t using all the data that is available. Non-voters will be purged from the rolls.
- Ensure voting lists are made easily available in real time and free to the public. It is reported that WEC currently charges $12,500 for just a one-day snapshot of the list. Any confidential information such as SSN or confidential voters would be withheld.
- Have trained lawyers and staff throughout the state to answer election-related inquiries in real time and to ensure election day compliance with the law. Attorneys General of both parties have had election integrity efforts on election day. This would codify the practice.
- Recommend prosecution to the Attorney General and he or she will have clear jurisdiction to prosecute cases of election law and open government violations. Working with local DAs and law enforcement will be encouraged. They are our first line of defense.
- Certify cyber security protections are compliant with state and federal law and sufficient to prevent any cyber security threats before, during, and after elections.
- Assist district attorneys, local governments, and law enforcement as they are the primary enforcers of election law.
The creation of the Office of Election Integrity & Public Trust is just one of many actions Kleefisch is calling for to clean up our elections. She also supports banning ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting among other actions to restore public trust in our elections. Kleefisch has called for eliminating the Wisconsin Elections Commission and returning election authorities to elected officials.