On May 26, 2021, more than six months after the 2020 presidential election, Wisconsin’s top Republican lawmaker announced that he would be hiring three retired police officers and an attorney to conduct a new investigation of the election results.
The announcement by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos made Wisconsin the third state in recent months — following Arizona’s ongoing and widely discredited “audit” of votes cast in the state’s largest county and the news in late May that a Georgia judge would be allowing a review of more than 100,000 mail-in ballots — in which Trump allies have initiated baseless inquiries into the 2020 election.
The results of the 2020 presidential election are not in doubt and there have been no credible allegations of fraud or misconduct that could have affected the outcome in any state. Dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump and his supporters failed to show evidence of widespread fraud and have been rejected by judges across the country.
On May 24, just days before Vos announced his new investigation, the Wisconsin Elections Commission released a report showing that only 27 voters — out of 3.3 million who participated in the November election — had been referred to prosecutors for election-related violations. The report further undermined claims made by Trump that rampant voter fraud had cost him the election in Wisconsin.
In August, conservative former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who in November 2020 said “bureaucrats” were being allowed to “steal our vote,” was appointed to lead the taxpayer-funded “investigation” into the 2020 election. Gableman’s first request, sent to the state’s county clerks, was an email sent from a personal Gmail account, which landed in some spam folders and raised security concerns.
In addition to perpetuating Trump’s big lie that the election was somehow stolen, one of the main objectives of such sham election audits is to create a pretext for enacting new restrictions on voting rights. The Journal Sentinel reported that Vos intends to use the results of his investigation to “identify laws that should be changed,” and Republican lawmakers in more than two dozen states have already cited false claims of voter fraud as justification for pushing anti-voting measures. Follow our investigation into these and other attacks on voting rights.
American Oversight is investigating Vos’ election inquiry and its potential connection to similar “audits” fueled by the big lie. We filed multiple public records requests in Wisconsin seeking to uncover key documents, including:
The Wisconsin Assembly released some documents in response to our open records requests, but it did not produce any documents related to the contractors hired to conduct the baseless election review. On Oct. 8, American Oversight sued the Assembly and Vos for failing to release all of the requested records, and that same day the court ordered the Assembly and Vos to “immediately” release the documents or show cause.