Elections Administrator Stands Firm: “I know I Have the Facts Behind Me”

Posted on Categories Election Law, Public, Speakers at Marquette

Meagan Wolfe has been under a lot of pressure since the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin. As the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, she has been a prime target of criticism from those who think there were irregularities and misconduct behind Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow win over Republican Donald Trump. There have been calls from some Republicans for Wolfe to be fired, along with attacks on her integrity and competence.

But in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program on Dec. 3, 2021, Wolfe firmly defended the work of election officials across Wisconsin and showed no sign of backing down from her position that the election was run well and by the rules.

“It’s always difficult when your integrity is questioned, but I know I have the facts behind me,” Wolfe told Gousha, Marquette Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy. “I stand behind the great work that I know I did, that I know my team did, that I know local elections officials did.”

Wolfe said Wisconsin has the most decentralized election system in the country, with local election clerks, many in very small communities, taking on the challenges of handling the complexities of running elections by the book. Every step is open to public viewing, she said, and those who follow the work of election officials see that “they really conduct it with an incredible amount of integrity.”

Wolfe’s job means she is required to be strictly nonpartisan, carrying out directions of a commission created by the Legislature and made up of three Republicans and three Democrats. Sticking to a nonpartisan role is hard, she said, “especially in this climate right now.”

She said that she was concerned that if she left her position, a successor, possibly one picked by legislators, might be someone with partisan motivations.

Wolfe renewed responses she gave during an 11-hour legislative hearing recently in which she defended specifics of the commission’s work and responded to a report from the Legislative Audit Bureau that generally concluded the election was run fairly, while making recommendations for changes.

Asked by Gousha how general confidence in the integrity of elections could be restored, Wolfe answered, “I don’t know that there’s an easy answer.” She said that question keeps her up at night, and she added that people should follow how elections are conducted and engage in the process of running elections fairly.

She said more consistency in election practices in the hundreds of local communities in Wisconsin would help. That is not easy when some election clerks oversee large cities and some oversee small communities where a clerk may be hired to work for only a few hours a week. “We need to fund and support local election offices,” Wolfe said, making sure they have adequate resources, facilities, and equipment such as computers.

Video of the conversation with Wolfe may be viewed by clicking here.

 

 

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