GOP lawmaker hosts informational hearing on how WI's elections operate, debunks conspiracy theories

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Republican chair of the Senate Elections Committee held a training session to describe how Wisconsin's elections operate, which comes as Republicans ramp up their efforts to investigate the 2020 presidential election.

State Sen. Kathleen Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) held an informational hearing Wednesday that included a panel of state and local election officials along with security experts in voting machines to help provide clarity on how elections operate.

"I thought this would be an outstanding idea because for quite a few years now I've heard misinformation and disinformation about the electoral process," Bernier said at the beginning of the presentation.

Republican lawmakers, staff and some members of the public attended the event and asked questions regarding a wide range of topics including absentee ballots, voter rolls, ID requirements, training for poll workers and voting equipment.

Wisconsin's chief election official, Meagan Wolfe, specifically address concerns about theories people can submit multiple ballots during an election.

"Did somebody vote twice? Did someone vote who is deceased? If we find those incidences, and sometimes we do -- it's a small amount -- but when we do, those are referred for criminal prosecution," said Wolfe. "We have layers of security in place to catch it."

Experts in voting equipment also defended that their machines are not connected to an outside server and emphasized they can't be accessed through the Wi-Fi. 

Bernier, who served as a county clerk for over a decade, is one of the few Republican lawmakers standing up to defend the integrity of Wisconsin's elections.

She ended the presentation by encouraging people to stop spreading false information about how elections are run.

'I’m sorry, but there is not a reason to spread misinformation about this past election when we have all the evidence that shows otherwise,” Bernier said.

Her comments come as Republican lawmakers have ordered and begun investigations into the 2020 presidential election.

One effort was brought forth by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) who hired former State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to lead the investigation. Another review is being led by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.

Assembly Elections Committee Chair Rep. Janel Brandtjen is also trying to seize ballots and voting equipment in her own investigation, but her efforts continue to face roadblocks.

Milwaukee and Brown counties last week rejected her subpoenas to turn over voting machines and ballots because they were not signed by Vos or the Assembly's chief clerk.

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