Kleefisch files lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission

NOW: Kleefisch files lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission


MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is suing the state elections commission for their guidance issued to clerks during the 2020 election.

Kleefisch, a Republican candidate running for governor, filed the lawsuit asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take action against the commission's guidance issued during the pandemic regarding ballot drop boxes, prohibiting special voting deputies in nursing homes, and consolidating polling places.

Kleefisch said WEC needs to be held accountable to ensure confidence in elections "where every voter can trust the process and the result.”

"It was the unlawful, last minute changes to the rules by the elections commission and resulting lawsuits that led to the greatest controversy and confusion among voters," Kleefisch said.

The lawsuit comes as Republican lawmakers are demanding the leader of the state elections commission, Meagan Wolfe, to step down after a nonpartisan audit didn't find any widespread voter fraud, but made dozens of recommendations on how to improve its elections.

The report by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau did find the Elections Commission failed to create formal rules when it came to training voting deputies and election inspectors.

In recent days Wolfe has also asked auditors to fix what she calls errors in the report since the bureau did not allow her to submit feedback before the report was published.

Wolfe and the six-member bipartisan commission have been under fire by Republicans after Racine County officials have alleged it was WEC guidance that led to instances of voter fraud at a Mount Pleasant nursing home.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling is referring criminal charges against five commissioners and Wolfe after they told clerks to send absentee ballots to nursing homes instead of poll workers to help residents vote during the pandemic.

Wolfe has defended the commission's decision saying it was necessary to allow individuals the right to vote.

WEC declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Democrats are standing by the commission for allowing the use of ballot drop boxes and not sending poll workers to nursing home to ensure people could vote while limiting the spread of Covid-19.

Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) hopes the high court can resolve these disagreements, but said Republicans should have filed lawsuits months ago.

"At least Rebecca Kleefisch has the decency to go to court and try and get a judge to agree with her, that is something Republicans including the Trump campaign could have done well more than a year ago," Spreitzer said.

Kleefisch's lawsuits comes months after state Supreme Court declined to take up lawsuit by Jeré Fabick who sought to ban the use of drop boxes. In March, Fabick sued election officials ahead of the April election to prevent voters from using drop boxes.

Justices last year also ruled in separate case that these types of challenges need to be filed before an election happens, instead of after.

In December, former President Donald Trump's campaign filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Joe Biden's victory in Wisconsin, but the state Supreme Court upheld the results saying Trump waited too long since the election was over.  

This means Kleefisch's chances in court could be different since she filed ahead of the 2022 midterms.

"I'm bringing this lawsuit now to resolve these lingering controversies well before voting begins so we can ensure the problems of 2020 elections never happen again," said Kleefisch. "

Republicans have defended on-going election investigations as a way to restore confidence in elections, but Democrats call them politically motivated to sow distrust.

"Republicans could have and should have go to court well-more than a year ago before the 2020 election. The fact that just now they are doing it shows this is political," Spreitzer said.

Read the full filing below: 

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