Wisconsin elections head not concerned about intimidation
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s top elections official said Tuesday that she wasn’t worried about increased voter intimidation or partisan observers at the polls this fall, when the Democratic governor and a Republican U.S. senator are up for reelection in the presidential battleground state.
Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said at a news conference that she has no reason to believe the state’s Aug. 9 primary will be any different than the state’s two elections this spring, which featured mostly local races that were far less high-profile than the November midterm elections.
Wolfe and Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson spoke in advance of the state’s Thursday deadline for clerks to send out requested absentee ballots for the upcoming primary.
“My top concerns continue to be election confidence, confidence in the election process, ensuring that people have the information they need to understand elections,” Wolfe said.
She said that concern is not new to this election, “but we are working on a lot of things to get information out to the public.”
Among those efforts are social media tools for clerks, news releases and informational videos about the voting process.
Elections administration has been the target of much misinformation in Wisconsin since President Joe Biden won the state in 2020, defeating Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes. Some Republicans have repeatedly refused to accept the results, despite recounts, multiple court rulings, a nonpartisan audit and a conservative review that have all upheld Biden’s win. A GOP-led investigation has also failed to uncover evidence that Trump won.
Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary will most notably determine the GOP candidate for governor and Democratic opponent to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
The leading Republican candidates in the governor’s race are Trump-backed multimillionaire and construction company co-owner Tim Michels; former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who fell just short of receiving the Wisconsin Republican Party’s endorsement at the party’s convention in May; business consultant and former Marine Kevin Nicholson; and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. The winner will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson are atop the eight Democrats vying for a shot at Johnson.
Numerous other races will be determined in the August primary.
In the state’s eight congressional districts, there are six primary races. Notably, Democrats did not field any candidates in either the 6th of 8th districts, which are held by Republican Reps. Glenn Grothman and Mike Gallagher.
Three Republicans are running for attorney general. The winner of that primary will face Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who is on safari in Africa, will face Democrat Alexia Sabor. Three Republicans and one Libertarian are also running for secretary of state. Two Democrats and eight Republicans are in the running for lieutenant governor.
In the Legislature, 116 of 132 seats are up, including all 99 Assembly seats and 17 of 33 Senate seats. There are seven Senate races and 29 in the Assembly where two or more candidates will face off in the primary.
Republicans go into election season with a 21-12 majority in the Senate and a 58-38 advantage in the Assembly, where there are three vacancies.
Harm Venhuizen is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Harm on Twitter.