Bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously chooses Democrat as chair for 2 years

Jun 10, 2024, 12:57 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The same Democrat who led the Wisconsin Elections Commission during the contested 2020 presidential election will be back in the helm in the swing state this year after being unanimously elected Monday by the bipartisan panel.

Ann Jacobs was the only commission member nominated to serve as chair, reprising the role she had from 2020 to 2022. The unanimous vote included one from a Republican commissioner who attempted to cast Wisconsin’s electoral votes for Donald Trump in 2020 even though he lost the state.

The six-member commission administers and enforces Wisconsin election laws, but elections are run locally by more than 1,800 clerks in towns, villages, cities and counties. State law requires that the chair of the commission alternate between a Republican and a Democrat every two years.

Jacobs, in a post on X following her election as chair, said she recognizes Wisconsin’s “outsize role in this year’s presidential election” and said she was “confident in the work of our many clerks & Elections Comm. staff in making this our strongest election ever.”

Jacobs, in her role as chair, will approve the vote canvass following elections and certifies results, including the upcoming presidential election. The chair also sets the commission’s agenda and influences how questions are framed, a key power on a panel divided between both parties.

The certification is normally a perfunctory ministerial function performed by the chair after local and counties canvassing board have certified the results at the local level. Following the 2022 midterm election, then-chair Republican Don Millis certified the statewide results in a matter of minutes.

However, in 2020 Republican supporters of Trump attempted to slow down the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. Republicans that year called on Jacobs to resign after she certified the results even as Trump lawsuits challenging the election were pending.

One of members of the elections commission who voted in favor of Jacobs becoming chair was Republican Bob Spindell. He is one of 10 Republicans who attempted to cast Wisconsin’s electoral votes for Trump in 2020.

Spindell and the other fake electors, under the settlement of a civil lawsuit, said their actions were “part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results.”

Spindell has refused calls from Democrats to step down from the commission because of his role as a fake elector. He did not comment about Jacobs before casting his vote in favor of her serving as chair.

Two attorneys and a Trump aide were charged with felonies last week in Wisconsin related to their work on the fake elector scheme. None of the electors were charged, but Attorney General Josh Kaul said the investigation remains open.

While Jacobs will serve as chair of the commission, Wisconsin’s top elections official is Meagan Wolfe, the nonpartisan administrator of the elections agency.

Both Wolfe and the commission have been targeted with false claims of election fraud and other impropriety since the 2020 election won by Biden over Trump. Some Republican lawmakers have pushed to impeach Wolfe, but have failed.

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Bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously chooses Democrat as chair for 2 years