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Robin Vos: Time may have run out to implement any recommendations from Gableman probe

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Whatever recommendations former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman comes up with after he concludes his now-eight-month, $676,000 review of the 2020 election, the Legislature is unlikely to act on them before the 2022 midterms, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Thursday.

Vos, R-Rochester, said Thursday that Gableman, whom Vos hired last year, will “hopefully” release the report on the GOP-ordered review by early next week. He has previously said the investigation should be completed by the end of February, which is Monday.

A small percentage of voters and witnesses made mistakes on their absentee ballot certificates in 2020. Here are some examples of the kinds of errors that were either allowed or corrected by the clerk in order to permit the ballot to be counted.

“It is possible” to take up legislation based on recommendations from the Gableman report before the fall election, Vos said Thursday. “But again, so much of the information is being obstructed by these new lawsuits and litigation.”

“So it might not be possible, not because of (Gableman) not doing good work,” Vos said at a news conference before what is expected to be the final Assembly session this year.

Vos added that legislation will come, but said overcoming “obstruction” had slowed the election review’s progress.

“That’s part of the challenge that we’ve had since the very beginning, that Democrats have thrown every possible roadblock up,” he said.

Asked whether he will take seriously Gableman’s report when it comes out, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday, “I know they spent a lot of money and effort, I will certainly read it. ... But at the end of the day, the people of Wisconsin have to know that that election was very secure.”

Gableman’s review has failed to meet previous deadlines and the former justice filed another petition last Friday seeking to once again jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay — and now a list of city and election staff — if they don’t comply with a lengthy list of demands.

Vos has many times criticized the legal challenges filed against several of Gableman’s subpoenas, which he described as efforts by liberals to “obfuscate and obstruct.” Several of the subjects of those subpoenas, including Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, have said they are glad to answer questions, so long as the interviews are conducted in public before the legislators Gableman is working on behalf of and not behind closed doors.

A recount and court decisions have affirmed that President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes. Similarly, reviews of the election by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau and the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty found no evidence of widespread fraud, but did lead to recommendations on how elections can be improved.

Vos’ comments came before the Assembly was scheduled to vote on a slate of election-related bills that Evers will likely veto.

The bills would, among other things, allow lawmakers to cut funding for the Wisconsin Elections Commission when it’s deemed not to have complied with state election laws.

Evers has pledged to strike down any attempt to make voting harder in the state.

The 2020 election is over. Here’s what happened (and what didn’t)

The 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which coordinates the nation’s election infrastructure.

While a handful of voters risked going to prison by attempting to vote twice or in the name of a dead relative, as happens in any election, no evidence of widespread fraud has ever been produced in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Yet, many continue to question some of the practices clerks relied on to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots and make sure their votes were counted amid the first election in more than 100 years held during a pandemic.

The Wisconsin State Journal has covered every twist and turn of this debate in scores of stories. But here are a few that offered some broader context about what happened, and didn't happen, in the election of 2020.

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The state has multiple, overlapping safeguards aimed at preventing ineligible voters from casting ballots, tampering with the ballots or altering vote totals.

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Nothing in the emails suggests there were problems with the election that contributed in any meaningful way to Trump's 20,682-vote loss to Joe Biden.

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"Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure," Sen. Rob Cowles said Friday.

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The grants were provided to every Wisconsin municipality that asked for them, and in the amounts they asked for. 

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"Application of the U.S. Department of Justice guidance among the clerks in Wisconsin is not uniform," the memo says.

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YORKVILLE — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Thursday morning news conference that it has identified eight cases of what it believes to be election fraud at a Mount Pleasant nursing home.

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The memo states that state law gives the Audit Bureau complete access to all records during an audit investigation and federal law and guidance does not prohibit an election official from handing over election records.

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Drop boxes were used throughout Wisconsin, including in areas where Trump won the vast majority of counties.

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"I don't think that you instill confidence in a process by kind of blindly assuming there's nothing to see here," WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg said.

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The report is the latest to show that there was not widespread fraud in Wisconsin.

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The clear insinuation was that someone not qualified to conduct an election improperly influenced these vulnerable voters. But the Wisconsin State Journal could not confirm the data. 

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The turnout at nursing homes in Brown, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine counties in 2020 was not much different from the turnout in 2016.

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