PRESS EDITORIAL: Election farce has the clueless investigating the competent

Behold the farce:

Wisconsin’s county, city, village and town clerks, including those of Ozaukee County, civil servants who are knowledgeable in complex election regulations and carry them out successfully under intense scrutiny and demanding deadlines, are being investigated by a political appointee who without evidence has claimed the 2020 presidential election in the state was stolen and admitted he is ignorant of how elections work.

The farce is the so-called investigation being attempted by Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice appointed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to find evidence that Donald Trump was denied victory in Wisconsin by voter fraud.

Gableman has been as bumbling as he is prejudiced. Proving the accuracy of his own comment that he doesn’t have “any understanding of how elections work,” he has demanded voting machine data that doesn’t exist, ordered county clerks to preserve “any and all evidence” related to the 2020 election in an email sent under the name “john delta,” planned to interview election officials in secret in an office he shares with a liposuction clinic and said clerks have to prove they are innocent of election wrongdoing.

For this embarrassing incompetence, Gableman will be rewarded with a substantial part of the $680,000 in taxpayer money to be spent for the audit. Exactly how much he will be paid has not been made known, but it is certain to be more than any of the clerks who competently and in compliance with stringent rules manage the system that gives citizens the wherewithal to participate in their democracy are paid for their efforts.

The Gableman fiasco has drawn unflattering national attention to Wisconsin with suggestions that it might even be a more buffoonish performance than the Arizona election audit carried out in part by a hired company named CyberNinjas that featured detective work aimed at finding traces of bamboo fibers on ballots as evidence of Chinese interference, among other absurdities.

Back in Wisconsin, Gableman augmented his spectacle while appearing on a conservative radio show by comparing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s accurate news reporting of his stumbling inquiry to propagandizing by the Nazi war criminal Joseph Goebbels, demonstrating that, like elections, he doesn’t understand how World War II worked.

There was never any need to inflict this nonsense on Wisconsin. Recounts, audits and court decisions confirmed the accuracy of the election results. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, following a directive of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to examine the 2020 election, found no reason to question the results of voting they described as safe and secure.

Even U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a devoted Trump supporter, was recorded at a Republican event saying there is “nothing skewed” about the results. “Collectively, Republicans got 1.661 million votes, 51,000 votes more than Trump got,” Johnson said. “Trump lost by 20,000. . . . He didn’t get 51,000 votes that other Republicans got. And that’s why he lost.”

Gableman’s performance has been described as “cringe worthy,” and it’s the legislators responsible for ordering this sham investigation who should be cringing. They should salvage what redemption they can by ending it now.

At the same time, they should issue a public apology to the local government clerks who year after year carry out their duties in a way that proves they have no problem understanding how elections work.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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