AP FACT CHECK: Wisconsin election probe ignores some facts

Mar 2, 2022, 2:12 PM | Updated: 4:42 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice examining the 2020 election in battleground Wisconsin laid out his interim findings this week and recommended that legislators should consider decertifying the state’s presidential result — a move attorneys have said is illegal.

But many of Michael Gableman’s claims have already been dismissed by courts or rejected by the state’s bipartisan election commission. Gableman, who was hired by the Assembly’s top Republican, acknowledged that he had voted for Donald Trump and had called the election stolen before he was ever appointed to look into it.

Here’s a look at some of the claims from his presentation to lawmakers on Tuesday and in the report:

GABLEMAN: “Wisconsin election officials’ widespread use of absentee ballot drop boxes violated Wisconsin law.”

THE FACTS: Wisconsin law is silent on absentee ballot boxes. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission before the 2020 election provided guidance to local election clerks who run elections, telling them that ballot boxes can be put wherever they want. Wisconsin’s top elections official testified last year that at least 528 drop boxes were used by more than 430 communities in the 2020 presidential election.

Both Republicans and Democrats supported the widespread use of ballot boxes in the past. However, after Trump’s loss in Wisconsin, his supporters questioned the legality of the elections commission’s guidance.

A judge in January said ballot boxes located outside of election clerks’ offices are illegal because nothing in state law allowed the elections commission to issue that guidance to clerks. The case is currently pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The elections commission last month rescinded its guidance, in keeping with the lower court’s ruling.

___

GABLEMAN, claiming that the Wisconsin Elections Commission broke the law by directing municipal clerks not to dispatch voting assistants to nursing homes, which led to mentally unfit residents casting ballots: “The Wisconsin Elections Commission unlawfully directed clerks to violate rules which are in place to protect nursing home residents.”

THE FACTS: It’s more complicated than that.

State law does require local election clerks to send so-called special voting deputies to nursing homes to give residents an opportunity to vote. After trying to make two visits, the deputies can mail absentee ballots to the residents instead.

But early in the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Wisconsin Elections Commission made its decision, the state was under a safer-at-home order and nursing homes were severely limiting who could come into their facilities, often not even allowing immediate family members inside.

The elections commission, split evenly among Republicans and Democrats, in March 2020 voted unanimously that poll workers could not be sent into nursing homes. The commission voted 5-1 in two follow-up votes extending the order through the November 2020 election before rescinding it in March 2021. Instead of sending in voting deputies, the commission directed clerks to mail absentee ballots to nursing home residents who had requested them.

State election commissioners have defended their move, saying they were trying to ensure nursing home residents could vote by sending absentee ballots instead of voting assistants who may not have been allowed to enter.

The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau determined that the commission broke the law by not sending in the voting assistants.

A Racine County sheriff last year argued that the election commission members who voted not to send in the helpers should be charged with felonies, but the district attorney declined to bring charges, saying she did not have jurisdiction. Attorney General Josh Kaul — a Democrat — has also declined to pursue charges.

Gableman’s claim that mentally unfit nursing home residents voted is also questionable. Under Wisconsin law, only a judge can declare someone as incompetent to vote. Nursing home residents retain their right to vote even if they are under the guardianship of a relative.

Gableman played videos of attorney Erick Kardaal interviewing several people who he said had voted but who struggled to respond to basic questions.

Ann Jacobs, the Democratic chairwoman of the Elections Commission, said the videos were misleading because people don’t have to answer questions in order to vote.

Gableman claimed to have “vetted” 64 nursing homes in three counties and determined that 100% of registered voters there voted, but his report provided no documentation to back up the allegation. The elections commission was reviewing claims made in the report, said spokesman Riley Vetterkind.

___

GABLEMAN: The Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life’s gift of $8.8 million to the cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay to help run elections “violates the Wisconsin law prohibiting election bribery.”

THE FACTS: Three lawsuits arguing that the grant funding was illegal under state law have been rejected and a law firm hired by the state elections commission also determined there was no wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, refused to block the grant money in October 2020 under a lawsuit filed by Kaardal on behalf of the Wisconsin Voters Alliance, in conjunction with the conservative Thomas More Society.

The judge said then that there was nothing in state law “that can be fairly construed as prohibiting the defendant Cities from accepting funds from CTCL.”

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on an appeal of that case that those who brought the lawsuit failed to identify any laws that would prohibit the grants.

Kaardal again raised the issue in a federal lawsuit he filed in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Wisconsin Voters Alliance, two Wisconsin Republican state lawmakers and others. That lawsuit sought to let state lawmakers in Wisconsin and other states allocate their Electoral College votes.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, appointed by President Barack Obama, dismissed the lawsuit and referred Kaardal to a court committee for discipline just for bringing the case. Kaardal has appealed that.

In a third case, the Wisconsin Voters Alliance represented by Kaardal asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn the election results for several reasons, including the grants. The court refused to take the case.

___

GABLEMAN, citing alleged voting irregularities and election administration grants awarded to Democratic-majority cities: “The Legislature ought to take a very hard look at the option of decertification of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential election.”

THE FACTS: Attorneys say that’s illegal, and lawmakers say they won’t do it.

Nonpartisan attorneys who work for the Legislature told lawmakers in both November 2020 after Trump’s loss and again a year later that decertification was not legal. Republican legislative leaders have repeatedly cited those memos as reasons why they will not pursue any attempt to reverse awarding the state’s 10 electoral votes to Biden, who won the state by just under 21,000 votes.

The Assembly has also repeatedly rejected a resolution from Republican Rep. Timothy Ramthun, a candidate for governor, to decertify the vote. Even as Gableman was making his presentation, Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke tweeted that the move was unconstitutional and would not be considered by lawmakers. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who hired Gableman, has also previously rejected calls to decertify the election. And even Gableman, in his own report, said the move would not remove Biden from office.

___

EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

___

This story has been corrected to show the initial vote on nursing homes was unanimous, but subsequent votes were 5-1. It has also corrected the name of a group to the Thomas More Society, not the Thomas Moore Society.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - SAS planes are grounded at Oslo Gardermoen airport during pilots strikes, in Oslo, Friday, A...
Associated Press

Carrier SAS files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in US

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday filed for bankruptcy in the United States, warning the announcement of a strike by 1,000 pilots a day earlier had put the future of the carrier at risk. The move adds to the likelihood of travel chaos across Europe as the summer vacation period begins. The Stockholm-based […]
2 hours ago
A Somali man carries a child as he and others who fled drought-stricken areas arrive at a makeshift...
Associated Press

Ukraine’s shadow: Deadly crises like Somalia starved of aid

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — More than two dozen children have died of hunger in the past two months in a single hospital in Somalia. Dr. Yahye Abdi Garun has watched their emaciated parents stumble in from rural areas gripped by the driest drought in decades. And yet no humanitarian aid arrives. Shortly after Russia invaded […]
2 hours ago
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Ass...
Associated Press

Sri Lanka PM says talks with IMF difficult due to bankruptcy

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund are more complex and difficult than in the past because it is a bankrupt nation, the country’s prime minister said Tuesday. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told lawmakers that recent discussions with a visiting IMF mission were fruitful but not as straightforward as […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

IEA: High prices, uncertainty will slow growth in gas demand

BERLIN (AP) — The International Energy Agency says high prices for natural gas and supply fears due to the war in Ukraine will slow the growth in demand for the fossil fuel in the coming years. In a report published Tuesday, the Paris-based agency forecast global demand for natural gas will rise by 140 billion […]
2 hours ago
FILE - Protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. After the ...
Associated Press

Companies could face hurdles covering abortion travel costs

After the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the federal right to an abortion that’s been in place for half a century, companies like Amazon, Disney, Apple and JP Morgan pledged to cover travel costs for employees who live in states where the procedure is now illegal so they can terminate pregnancies. But the companies gave scant […]
2 hours ago
70-year-old Valentyna Klymenko, who lives alone in her war-damaged building from Russian aerial bom...
Associated Press

Ukrainians displaced near Kyiv fear for war-damaged homes

BORODYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — Valentyna Klymenko tries to return home as late as possible to avoid the darkness of her war-damaged home outside Ukraine’s capital. She visits friends, goes to the well for water or looks for a place to charge her phone. The 70-year-old Klymenko then returns alone to an apartment that used to […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
AP FACT CHECK: Wisconsin election probe ignores some facts