Out of the roughly three million Wisconsinites who cast ballots this past November, only four voters were charged with election fraud. However, we still seem to find the results to be highly contested amongst our peers and our elected officials. After a year of relentless disinformation surrounding the 2020 presidential election, we need to be done with this conversation.
The process of election in our state will in no sense ever be immune to human error. Nevertheless, the notion that the 2020 election was stolen was fueled by disingenuous intentions and exasperated claims. By now, it’s well-established that most of the arguments put forward by President Trump’s reelection campaign — in its challenge of the results of the 2020 election — are baseless and highly speculative. Even so, we still find election results being investigated in Wisconsin on the order of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Justice Michael Gableman.
There is no harm in “going through the motions,” as one would say, but we are far past this idea. As scenes in courtrooms nationwide have shown, it seems there is indeed a downside for those tasked with pursuing these claims. Repeatedly now, they have been rebuked by judges for how thin their arguments have been.
Back in November, a claim made by former president Trump himself suggested that turnout in Wisconsin jumped from 67.34% in 2016 to 89.25% in 2020. "I’m calling bull****," he said in a statement following this so-called “statistic.” This tweet — straight from our chief executive — amassed over 13,000 shares. Despite being only one claim of many, simple election math will point to the fact there is no bull**** to be seen.
As we know, Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration, meaning the number of registered voters will go up throughout the day. More prominently speaking, using fixed registered voters to calculate turnout was and would be inaccurate.
Voter turnout in a same-day registration state is based on the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot. Accurately estimating turnout rates requires dividing the number of votes actually cast by the voting-age population. Using this method, we find that turnout rates in Wisconsin landed around 72%, well in range of past presidential elections.
Beyond registration statistics — Trump, Wisconsin state officials and constituents alike also look to voting violations to cast doubt on what should be undisputed results. Bear in mind, this fabricated idea and seemingly reoccurring rhetoric came shortly before the recently dismissed state audits, partial recount and numerous failed lawsuits looking to uncover even a scrap of evidence suggesting widespread election fraud.
The case for “wrongdoing” suggests that there are only 27 possible cases out of the roughly 3.3 million votes cast in Wisconsin, 18 of which have already been dropped. Reiterating the fact that there have only been four confirmed, it is absolutely baffling to use this as a figure for argument in a race that was decided by a margin of more than 20,000 votes.
Luckily, all hope does not seem to be lost for our divided, and exceptionally partisan state. In early September, two well-known Wisconsin Republicans refuted the idea of mass voter fraud in our state. For one, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) quoted, "the only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is 51,000 Republican voters didn’t vote for him; if all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for [state] assembly candidates, he would have won.”
Despite the numerous failed investigative attempts and ongoing probe led by Vos and Gableman, we see other Republican legislators adhere to logic over speculative assumptions. In late September, Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-WI) looked to fill the void of uncertainty with information that her fellow legislators and divergent constituents seem to overlook. Bernier, who chairs the Senate’s elections committee, organized an informational session to explain how Wisconsin’s elections work.
The informational session provided an opportunity not seen often in the hyper-partisan political climate of Wisconsin. This represented a proactive non-partisan effort to deliver answers to divided legislators and voters. Bernier held the hearing in the midst of the ongoing investigation ordered by Vos, sending a real message to her colleagues across the aisle. “I want to make sure that the misinformation that is perpetuated out there has been addressed because it is driving me nuts to listen to people,” Bernier stated in an interview.
Frustrated by the outcome of this last November — and consequently upset with the continuous challenges against those results — we remain in contention with one another.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been well regarded for providing objective political information in their courses. Nonetheless, in our healing post-pandemic world, we still see relentless political disputation across our campus and state. While we must leave room for internal dissension, we can not rely on the credence and comfort we find in our own constituency.
Science, logic and neutral dialect must lead the way in our fight for political tranquility. In embodying the beauty of the democratic process there will still be conflicting discourse. However, the collective and comprehensive takeaway of this conversation is to understand when to set aside emotionally driven, predisposed presumptions. The concern for election fraud is very existent, even 10 months after the presidential election. Yet, these beliefs are far from material, regardless of your pronounced political association.
As put by Dean Knudson, a member of the Wisconsin Election Committee, "I challenge you to set aside your political beliefs … take off your red hat, or your blue hat and be a neutral juror in this committee." That is what I encourage and challenge you to do. As a collective our goal remains the same: making sure the environment we share reaches its full potential. If you are passionate enough to push for the betterment of our state and political agenda, set aside ideological pullings so we can deal with real issues.
Luke Pierce is a Junior studying Political Science and Economics. Do you agree election misinformation is a problem plaguing our society? Send all comments to Opinion@dailycardinal.com