Wisconsin’s top elections official suffered another blow on Thursday when the Republican-controlled state senate voted to fire her by a party line vote of 22 to 11. Meagan Wolfe’s status as elections administrator will now likely be determined in court.
Legal experts and the Wisconsin attorney general have disputed the move by Republican senators to remove Wolfe, a respected and accomplished non-partisan leader. Her removal would affect the administration of elections in 2024 and illustrates the increasingly wide reach of election deniers and rightwing conspiracy theorists in Wisconsin politics.
Before she became a lightning rod for conspiracy theories and criticism surrounding the 2020 election, Wolfe enjoyed wide support from Republicans in the state legislature. Appointed to head the Wisconsin elections commission in 2018, she was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the state senate in 2019.
When the Covid-19 virus pummeled Wisconsin, disrupting elections, an attorney representing the Republican assembly speaker, Robin Vos, and the former senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a letter that they “wholeheartedly support” many protocols outlined by the statewide commission.
Crucially, Wolfe, who provides expertise and recommendations to the commission, serves at their direction – and not the other way around.
One pandemic-era policy that has come under fire by Republicans, creating temporary adjustments to nursing home voting, was issued by a unanimous vote of the three Democratic and three Republican commissioners.
“Meagan is being blamed for the decisions of her commission,” said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of Milwaukee’s election commission. “It’s really unfortunate that she’s being used as the scapegoat when she was not the person responsible for making any decisions that they’re punishing her for.”
It was only after the 2020 election, which Donald Trump lost to president Joe Biden by just over 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, that complaints about the nonpartisan administrator began to circulate. Groups and individuals that spread falsehoods about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election have obsessed over Wolfe, publishing missives in Gateway Pundit, a site that peddles misinformation, and earning a warning from state capitol police for allegedly stalking her. [Continue reading…]