Senate committee issues subpoena for Madison election records from 2020 election
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin Senate committee has issued a subpoena for Madison election records as part of an ongoing investigation into the 2020 election.
State Republicans announced plans for their own investigation in late October after the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau shared a report outlining inconsistent administration of election law based on surveys of ballots from around the state. The LAB’s report did not identify any cases of widespread fraud.
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The subpoena — issued by the Senate Committee on Elections, Election Process Reform and Ethics and signed by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), Senate President Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and committee chair Senator Kathleen Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) — calls for the city to turn over all physical absentee ballot certificates for the November 2020 General Election and the results of tests on electronic voting machines used for the election.
According to LAB’s report, Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl was the only clerk to decline to let the LAB physically handle absentee ballot certificates, citing chain-of-custody concerns.
“Having to sign the third subpoena in the history of the Senate is not something I take lightly. It’s unfortunate and concerning that a few people running elections think they are more important than the electorate,” Kapenga said. “I sign this with the full effect of the law behind it. We are not playing games, and there will be consequences if they don’t comply.”
Senate Republicans’ election investigation is being run simultaneously with a separate investigation led by former Supreme Court Justice Mike Gableman. Earlier this fall, Gableman sent subpoenas to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the state’s five largest cities asking for election materials and interviews with election officials. Shortly after LAB’s report was released, a judge set a hearing on whether or not to block that subpoena.
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In a statement shared Wednesday afternoon, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway cited federal and state laws that require the Clerk of Courts to maintain control of the records requested by the committee.
“As we have already communicated to the Legislative Audit Bureau, they are welcome to examine copies of election records and can have access to all of the information that is on the original documents requested,” the statement reads. “All they have to do is take a three minute walk to our Clerk’s office.”
Read Rhodes-Conway’s full statement below:
“As we have already communicated to the Legislative Audit Bureau, they are welcome to examine copies of election records and can have access to all of the information that is on the original documents requested. All they have to do is take a three minute walk to our Clerk’s office. Federal and state laws require that our Clerk maintain control over these documents, and those laws carry potential criminal penalties for intentionally violating that duty. We believe the Legislature should listen to their own attorneys, who concluded that this was an accurate interpretation of the law. We do not intend to violate the law simply because Senator Kapenga demands that we do so.”
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