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Head of Wisconsin 'audit' admits he doesn't know how elections work

There are no Cyber Ninjas operating at the state's behest in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean the Badger State's election "audit" will be less ludicrous.
Image: A sign for a polling place near the state capitol in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 6, 2018.
A sign for a polling place near the state capitol in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 6, 2018.Nick Oxford / Reuters file

It was already a bad idea when Wisconsin Republicans decided to launch a pointless, partisan investigation into the state's 2020 presidential election. Things got a little worse when GOP officials tapped former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to help oversee the probe.

As Rachel explained on the show in July, Gableman has been a "Stop the Steal" activist who falsely told the public the 2020 election wasn't "honest." More recently, Gableman traveled not only to Arizona, to take a look at its utterly bonkers "audit," but also to South Dakota, where he attended a bizarre "symposium" headed by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, an unhinged pro-Trump conspiracy theorist.

Or put another way, Gableman is the kind of guy Republican legislators would tap to get a predetermined result, not the kind of official chosen to oversee a credible process.

This week, however, the story took a rather farcical turn. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday:

The attorney leading a partisan review of Wisconsin's 2020 election acknowledged this week that he doesn't understand how elections are supposed to be run. The admission by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman comes as he subpoenas mayors and election officials.

"Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work," Gableman conceded on Tuesday.

Oh. So what we have here is a situation in which the Republican conspiracy theorist responsible for reviewing Wisconsin's elections, by his own admission, is completely clueless about how elections work.

Did I mention that GOP legislators thought it'd be a good idea to invest $680,000 in Wisconsin taxpayer money into this absurd exercise?

Gableman's acknowledgement of his own limitations comes on the heels of the former justice issuing subpoenas for publicly available materials that didn't need to be subpoenaed. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week:

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said Gableman could have easily gotten the information he's seeking without issuing subpoenas. He suggested Gableman is trying to appear as dramatic as possible even though numerous records have already been released to news outlets and others under the state's open records law. "They should have just asked for it," said McDonell, a Democrat who has been critical of Gableman's efforts.

The same article added that a conservative local talk-show host was made aware of the unnecessary subpoenas "before they had been served on election officials and at first clerks said they knew nothing about the matter."

And in case this weren't quite enough, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported this week that the subpoenas appear to be ridiculous in their scope:

Gableman's comments about new subpoenas came as election officials around the state are mulling how they could comply with ones he issued Friday that direct them to turn over "all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession, or control pertaining to the Election." That comprises hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of pages of records for the state and its five largest cities.

As best as I can tell, there are no Cyber Ninjas operating at the state's behest in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean the Badger State's "audit" will be less ludicrous.