Washington, D.C. — On the heels of Arizona’s embarrassing election audit results proving what the public already knew — that there was no widespread voter fraud, Donald Trump lost the election, and Joe Biden won — government watchdog Accountable.US called on the politicians pushing for a similar dubious audit in Wisconsin to explain why they want to continue wasting taxpayers’ time and money.
“The Republican sham ‘audit’ in Arizona was about keeping the Big Lie alive, plain and simple. By just calling for an audit, these lawmakers know it will inject doubt into the system and soothe the twice-impeached former president’s ego. As we saw in Arizona, even when an audit proves what we already knew — that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election — Trump and his allies won’t believe it. It is shameful that Wisconsin partisans are still trying to go down the same tortured road at taxpayers’ expense,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Haven’t they done enough damage to our democracy?”
Accountable.US recently released a report revealing that among the top corporate donors of the Wisconsin politicians pushing for election audits and peddling baseless 2020 election conspiracies include those connected to extremist groups and with histories of anti-vaccine rhetoric.
The watchdog posed the following questions to the politicians pursuing audits in Wisconsin:
- Even after the Arizona audit affirmed Joe Biden won the state, Donald Trump and his allies still won’t accept the results. Doesn’t this prove the audit was never about so-called ‘election integrity’ but pushing Trump’s Big Lie? Why are you continuing to push the Big Lie in Wisconsin?
The results of Arizona’s election audit were clear: despite Republicans’ fear mongering and rampant efforts to spread disinformation, auditors found that Joe Biden actually won the 2020 Election by an even wider margin over Donald Trump than was previously known. Ultimately, the audit found that “‘[T]here were no substantial differences between the hand count of the ballots provided and the official canvass results for the County… and there is no reliable evidence that the paper ballots were altered to any material degree.’”
Despite this, Trump and his allies have barreled ahead with plans to further examine Arizona’s election results outside of Maricopa County and called for “better” audits in states including Wisconsin, completely unphased by reality and unwilling to accept the audit’s results. For the twice-impeached former president’s supporters, actual evidence of voter fraud is secondary to their goal of keeping the Big Lie alive and in the spotlight.
- Several routine election audits and a recount of the presidential election results in Milwaukee and Dane Counties uncovered no evidence of election fraud. Doesn’t that suggest this audit is a sham meant only to inject doubt into the system?
Wisconsin conducted routine audits following the 2020 Election, including standard recounts in the state’s two largest counties, Milwaukee and Dane. In both cases, the results confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, and failed to uncover evidence of widespread voter fraud or election meddling. Trump’s efforts to challenge the state’s election results in the court not only resulted in the absence of evidence, but in a court filing by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers requesting that the former president pay Wisconsin back the $145,000 it spent defending against Trump’s bad-faith lawsuit.
Without any reasonable proof of fraud to fall back on, these politicians’ motivations are clear: continue spreading Trump’s Big Lie in order to further undermine our democracy.
- How much will this sham audit cost Wisconsin taxpayers?
According to Forbes, in addition to the $5.7 million Trump-supporting groups shelled out to make the audit of Maricopa County votes happen, the Arizona state Senate allocated $150,000 for the project. With the voting machines subpoenaed by the Senate decertified and thus unusable for future elections, Maricopa County will also reportedly have to allocate an additional $2.8 million for new voting machines prior to the midterm elections next year. Reporting in the Arizona Republic shows that overall, taxpayers footed the bill for at least $425,000 of audit costs by early September.
Unlike in Arizona, Wisconsin taxpayers would foot the bill for the entire sham audit in their state — and it’s no bargain. The Associated Press reports that the total price tag of the audit is $680,000, covering payments to former WI Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, investigators, and other miscellaneous costs. And the state’s contracts indicate that taxpayer dollars — not campaign or other funds like those collected by Trump allies and supporters for Arizona’s audit — must cover the whole cost.
These audits aren’t cheap, and the taxpayer costs are quickly adding up. Politicians must explain exactly how much of Wisconsinites’ hard-earned money they are willing to put towards a sham election audit to confirm the results of an election that are already known.
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