WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin said lingering questions he has about the 2020 presidential election are raising red flags about the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC).
Sen. Johnson said he’s lost faith in the bipartisan body tasked with running the state’s elections after it made several pandemic-related changes in 2020.
"I think WEC is an out of control agency and it's issuing guidances that are contrary to state law,” said Johnson. “We allowed county clerks to cure the absentee ballots applications which they're not allowed by law. We log balloting in the park, we allowed the indefinitely confined to vote without voter ID."
Johnson's now urging the GOP-controlled state legislature to strip the WEC of it’s power and give it to themselves.
“We have a system that works and it’s worked for the last five years since the Republicans created the system,” said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. "I would say thats an overreach.”
Governor Tony Evers and election experts believe, based on the state’s closely divided political make up, that move could unfairly tip the scale.
“If Sen. Johnson's proposal works, and the legislature doesn't want certify what everyone deems to be a free and fair election, there's going to be immense pressure on on both political parties to not necessarily support the result, but support their candidates,” said Matt Weil, the director of the Elections Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “And that's going to result in some outcomes that don't reflect the will of the people.
Sen. Johnson, however, said the change is necessary. He’s leaning on a report issued in October by the Legislative Audit Bureau. While the nonpartisan bureau offered several recommendations for the WEC, it found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state during the 2020 elections.
“This seems like it will be setting in motion, an electoral system, where whoever controls the legislature, will de facto control every federal office and vote for president going forward,” said Weil. “And that, to me, doesn't seem like democracy”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin is pushing back against Johnson's proposal.
“Frankly, this is so undemocratic,” said Baldwin.
She thinks its another effort by Republicans to push “the big lie” — the disproven theory that voter fraud caused President Trump to lose.
“We have, year after year, been a state that has closely fought elections many times,” she said. “And we have successfully figured out who won. And we have done counts, and recounts and canvases. And we run very fair and effective elections in Wisconsin. All of this activity right now is really appalling to me.”
While Johnson didn’t directly answer if he believed Joe Biden cheated in 2020, he did acknowledge that he won the election.
“He's obviously the President of the United States, he obviously got the electoral votes,” said Johnson. “I think there's going to be more information that comes out in terms of problems with that election.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Wisconsin hasn’t signaled if the legislature will pursue a takeover of federal elections. The WEC also declined to comment on Sen. Johnson’s attacks.