Issue Briefs August 12, 2021

Backgrounder: Wisconsin Scam Election Review Attempts

The 2020 Election in Wisconsin was free, fair, and accurate. The results were certified, recounted, and officially audited in compliance with state law. All of these official processes have confirmed the results of the election.
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The information below is intended to provide additional background and context regarding new attempts in Wisconsin to review the 2020 elections, including the “subpoenas” issued last week by State Representative Janel Brandjten to Brown and Milwaukee Counties and Speaker Robin Vos’ efforts to employ ex-law enforcement to “investigate” the 2020 election.

  • The 2020 Election in Wisconsin was free, fair, and accurate. The results were certified, recounted, and officially audited in compliance with state law. All of these official processes have confirmed the results of the election.
    • Over six days in November, county and municipal clerks conducted an official audit of more than 145,000 ballots from the November 2020 election. In total, 145,100 ballots were reviewed by hand and then cross-checked against the machine counting.
    • In Milwaukee and Dane counties, every single ballot was recounted as representatives from both the Trump and Biden campaigns watched.
    • There were at least seven frivolous legal challenges to the voting system, the counting process, and the results of the election in Wisconsin. Judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans rejected all false claims and challenges to the election, reaffirming the officially verified results.
  • Some politicians are spreading falsehoods and conspiracy theories in an effort to undermine the results of the 2020 election that trusted local election officials conducted and verified. For example, Rep. Brandjten dropped the news about the “subpoenas” a few hours before a campaign-style rally that promoted continued lies about the 2020 election.
  • The “subpoena” effort is a sham and is part of a dangerous disinformation campaign aimed at undermining trust in our elections.
    • It’s critically important to understand that these bad faith election reviews are based on disproven conspiracies and designed exclusively to undermine faith in Wisconsin’s long history of free and fair elections.
    • Discussing or reporting on developments around the “subpoenas” or so-called “investigations” without this context risks furthering the damage created by disinformation.
  • The “subpoenas” issued seeking election information and materials from two major counties are a sloppy stunt. They are legally deficient and off target. It’s clear they weren’t prepared by anyone with an understanding of Wisconsin’s elections systems.
    • According to the Journal-Sentinel, a June memo from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Council suggests the “subpoenas” may not be valid because the “subpoenas” are missing the required signatures from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel.
  • The fact that Rep. Brandtjen’s “subpoenas” are copied directly from the discredited sham election reviews in Arizona and Pennsylvania further shows the lack of transparency and integrity in this purported “investigation.”

The “subpoenas” demand that Brown and Milwaukee counties turn over data related to certain machines made by E S & S. These machines are used in Pennsylvania, not Wisconsin.


The “subpoenas” also ask for information on election processes (including signature matching and judges of elections) that don’t exist in Wisconsin. For example, Wisconsin does not have a position called a “judge of elections” but Pennsylvania does.

The “subpoenas” even include the same typo on the word “ballot” that was present in the Arizona subpoena and in a similar request for information in Pennsylvania. It asks for the “Ballet cancelled date,” misspelling “ballot” in the same way that the Arizona and Pennsylvania requests misspelled the word in the same location.


  • ​​Given the clear connections to anti-democratic efforts in other states, the glaring legal deficiencies, and the lack of transparency, Wisconsinites should have serious concerns about these attempts to undermine the 2020 election results.
    • Wisconsin voters deserve leaders who are focused on governing, not those who are hung up on an already settled election nine months later.
    • In other states like Arizona, these sham operations have been a waste of time and taxpayer money and they have been fraught with legal or other security concerns.
    • Nationwide, there is a growing chorus of bipartisan leaders speaking out against the continued attempts to undermine the 2020 election results. In Wisconsin, these sham reviews are already contentious within the Republican party.

  • Wisconsin voters acknowledge that Biden won the election and express serious reservations about a new “investigation” into the 2020 election results. 
    • Recent polling from States United Action, a nonpartisan group, found that a clear majority of Wisconsin voters (59% to 35%) believe that Biden won the state and also believe he did so fairly, not because of fraud (58% to 36%).
    • The survey also found that sixty-seven (67%) of Wisconsin voters have heard at least a bit about Vos’ proposed “investigation.” Those voters believe that “investigation” cannot be trusted by a 26-point margin and trust the official vote count already certified by Wisconsin’s election officials more than any results from this new “investigation” by a 22-point margin (54% to 32%).

Updated 8.12.21