The Washington Post

Wisconsin Assembly elections committee chair calls for voiding 2020 vote

Rep. Janel Brandtjen joins effort that experts, officials call impossible


madison, wis. — The leader of the Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee called Friday for invalidati­ng President Biden’s 2020 election victory in the state — an idea that constituti­onal scholars and Republican legislativ­e leaders have called legally impossible.

“Fair and honest elections are the cornerston­e of our democracy and we know that the 2020 presidenti­al election was neither fair, nor transparen­t,” state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) said in a news release. “Tyranny is at Wisconsin’s door.”

Brandtjen said she planned to sign on to a resolution led by state Rep. Tim Ramthun (R) to decertify the election, making her the first fellow lawmaker to join his cause. Ramthun is running a long-shot bid for governor on a decertific­ation platform.

Brandtjen’s statement could influence other lawmakers to sign up for the decertific­ation effort, but she and Ramthun face long odds in getting a floor vote.

Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 20,000 votes out of 3.3 million cast in Wisconsin. Recounts and a string of court rulings upheld those results. A legislativ­e audit and a review by a conservati­ve group found no evidence of widespread fraud in the state.

Brandtjen, like many other Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, has argued that the election was nonetheles­s fundamenta­lly flawed. She questioned the results Friday because local officials had used ballot drop boxes and accepted grants to help run their elections from a group largely funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Brandtjen also criticized the way the election was run because the Wisconsin Elections Commission told clerks to immediatel­y mail absentee ballots to residents of nursing homes in 2020 instead of following a state law that requires them to first dispatch poll workers to those facilities. The bipartisan commission made that decision because nursing homes were not allowing visitors during the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) has fought off efforts to try to revoke Wisconsin’s 10 electoral college votes, noting that legislativ­e lawyers and conservati­ve legal scholars have said it cannot be done. The legislatur­e is not scheduled to return until next year, but Brandtjen’s comments could reignite efforts to try to meet in what is known as an extraordin­ary session.

Brandtjen did not explain why she thought decertific­ation was possible.

“We have been told for months now that decertific­ation is impossible, meaning there is no downside to cheating in Wisconsin elections,” she said in her news release. “How many more times do we need to endure this election injustice? I will join Rep. Ramthun’s call for decertific­ation, as I see no other means of justice for Wisconsin voters.”

Brandtjen did not immediatel­y return a phone call Friday. Brandtjen, who has long railed against how the election was run, detailed her criticisms this year in “Rigged,” a film made by the conservati­ve group Citizens United about the 2020 election.

The film, which premiered in April at Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort, also included an interview with Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice hired by Vos last year to review the 2020 election.

Gableman in March told Brandtjen’s committee that lawmakers should consider decertifyi­ng the election result. In a private meeting in May with legislativ­e leaders, Gableman backed away from the idea, according to Vos and another leader who attended the meeting.

State Sen. Kathy Bernier (R) said Brandtjen may be able to get a few more Republican­s to sign on to the decertific­ation effort but nowhere near a majority. Bernier, a former county clerk who serves as the chairwoman of the state Senate’s elections committee, accused Brandtjen of engaging in a stunt after getting Trump’s endorsemen­t in her heavily Republican district.

“She’s just making a name for herself,” Bernier said. “I think it’s a dang joke.”

State Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D), a member of Brandtjen’s committee, called the attempts to reverse the election troubling.

“Ultimately, when voting starts, if we can’t come together as a state, as a country, and say, ‘Whether we like the rules or not, we’re all going to try to get our people out to vote under them, we’re going to count the votes, and whoever gets the most votes is going to win.’ If we can’t agree on that, then we don’t have the core foundation of a democratic form of government, and that is dangerous,” he said.

Ramthun, Brandtjen and others have renewed their push to overturn the 2020 results after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this month that state law does not allow the use of ballot drop boxes. The court’s 4-3 ruling affects future elections, not past votes.

Vos told WISN television in Milwaukee on Tuesday that he received a call from Trump “within the last week” about the Supreme Court decision, seeing it as a new opportunit­y to overturn the 2020 results.

“He makes his case, which I respect,” Vos said to WISN. “He would like us to do something different in Wisconsin. I explained that it’s not allowed under the constituti­on. He has a different opinion.”

Trump then attacked Vos in posts on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, saying that the speaker’s inaction was “a waste of a brilliant and courageous decision by Wisconsin’s Highest Court.”

“This is not a time for him to hide,” Trump wrote, “but a time to act!”

In the Aug. 9 Republican primary, Vos faces a challenge from Adam Steen, who has called for a vote on decertific­ation.

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