Time to stop fanning the flames of resentment in Wisconsin.
Instinctively, most people know, legislators talk a lot and do very little. When they get together, as was the case in Madison on Friday for a joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate elections committees, it’s often just theater.
The subject at hand was complaints about alleged voter fraud and irregularities in the Nov. 3 election. The first hint the hearing was following a choreographed partisan script could be found by the nature of its witnesses, appearing by-invitation-only. For example, two Republican members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave testimony but representatives for the agency itself were not invited. Even then, Dean Knudson, one of those Republicans, acknowledged, “I have not seen credible evidence of large-scale voter fraud in Wisconsin during the November election.”
Throughout, the hearing was dominated by invited witnesses from one side of the political spectrum, heavy on rhetoric and grievances and light on anything resembling evidence.
Meanwhile, experienced people who actually run elections and could have shed light—think folks like Beloit City Clerk Lori Stottler—were on the outside looking in. Both Stottler and Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson have long track records of running accurate and honest elections, and they did it again in 2020.
Look, we get it. Roughly half of Wisconsin is extremely disappointed not only with how the state voted in the presidential race, but with the outcome nationally.
Likewise, 2020 has been a year like no other in modern memory. It only made sense to present options allowing worried citizens to cast ballots with more safety protocols. Unavoidably, though, that left local elections officials vulnerable to angry accusations of error or worse when outcomes did not match desired expectations.
But, consider: Down-ballot Republicans in Wisconsin scored well in November, actually picking up seats in the State Senate. No one seems to be questioning those results.
Also, Wisconsin 7th District Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany is one of 126 House Republicans who signed on with a failed Texas lawsuit aiming to throw out Wisconsin’s election results. We did not, however, hear him question his own victory in the Wisconsin process.
After more than 50 failed lawsuits; after all 50 states certified the vote and their slates of Electoral College representatives; and after the U.S. Supreme Court declined multiple opportunities to intervene, there’s not much room to conclude anything except it’s over. The process has played out.
If legislators believe election-related issues have been exposed, talk less and do more to address it for the next time. For now, stop feeding the fires of resentment.