Wisconsin AG sees racism and ‘untold harm’ to democracy by Republicans disputing election results

Kaul: ‘An election isn’t a game of gotcha’

news conference on OxyCodin from Kaul's Facebook page
Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers together in May 2019 announcing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma L.P. over misleading the public on the dangers of OxyContin via DOJ on Facebook.

Republicans — including Wisconsin Elections Commission member Dean Knudson, a former Republican legislator — continue to try and cast doubts on the Wisconsin presidential election results even after the Trump campaign’s recount added to Joe Biden’s winning margin.

As expected, President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit disputing the election results on Tuesday morning with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, although state law dictates that such a suit be filed first in circuit court. The lawsuit claims that absentee votes cast in-person, during Wisconsin’s early voting window, are illegal, along with other categories of absentee ballots, including those cast in envelopes where a clerk added information to the address line and those cast by people who identified themselves as indefinitely confined due to illness or disability. In addition, the lawsuit seeks to categorize all of the votes cast in Dane County’s “Democracy in the Park” events as illegal.

Knudson accused Gov. Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul and Wisconsin Elections Commission chair Ann Jacobs of colluding and breaking the law, although the law is clear that the governor is the only one with the authority to certify the election.

Evers certified the presidential results giving Wisconsin’s 10 Electoral College votes to Biden on Monday afternoon, saying, “Today I carried out my duty to certify the November 3rd election, and as required by state and federal law, I’ve signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”

Former Gov. Scott Walker followed the same process to certify Donald Trump’s win in Wisconsin four years ago. Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney told WisPolitics that the “unsigned ascertainment document became a certificate of ascertainment after Evers signed it,” adding that only the governor has the power to issue a certificate in a presidential election.

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As Republicans sought to cast doubt on this outcome, Kaul weighed in with a statement based on his legal expertise that left no doubt that the head of the Department of Justice not only agreed, but saw racism and “untold harm”  to democracy occurring with continued baseless accusations of fraud. 

Kaul’s statement on the completion of the partial recount of the 2020 presidential results in Wisconsin conveys the gravity of the situation: 

“With the partial recount of the presidential election complete, there remains no question that, as usual, this year’s general election in Wisconsin was conducted professionally and securely. There’s no basis at all for any assertion that there was widespread fraud that would have affected the results.

 “It’s clear that President Trump and his representatives used the recount to seek after-the-election changes to the rules. Those changes would result in tens of thousands of votes, if not more, being thrown out — and the President’s representatives have only sought to have those changes applied to votes cast in our two most populous counties, in which the majority of Black Wisconsinites live.

 “I have every confidence that this disgraceful Jim Crow strategy for mass disenfranchisement of voters will fail. An election isn’t a game of gotcha. Our fundamental right to vote is far more powerful than that. Wisconsin elections are decided by the will of the voters, not post-election legal maneuvering. 

“The continuing baseless attacks on the integrity of our election system are, however, causing untold harm. In addition to artificially undermining confidence in our government, these falsehoods provide comfort to enemies of democracy from Russia to Iran, where elections that are actually rigged are used as a propaganda tool for autocrats.

“The truth is that our election system has integrity and that, amid a pandemic, Wisconsin’s hard-working election officials conducted a safe and fair election.”