Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) is vice chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections.
Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) is vice chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections.

“It’s fascism. And we should not stand for it,” says Democratic Sen. Chris Larson.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) on Monday, citing no evidence of any alleged issues with the Nov. 3 election, suggested the Republican-led Legislature should subvert Wisconsin’s popular vote and force the state’s electors to vote for outgoing President Donald Trump, who lost Wisconsin and the presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden.

Sanfelippo made the alarming proposal in a statement that echoes Republicans up to Trump himself who are either denying the election results or trying to sow doubt in the integrity of the nation’s institutions by baselessly claiming there was widespread voter fraud. There was no reported election-swaying fraud in Wisconsin or any other state.

Sanfelippo, vice chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections, took the Republican disinformation campaign a step further by saying the Legislature may need to force the state’s electors to vote for Trump, or the election may need to be declared “null and void.” 

“Democrats have created a cloud of suspicion over this election because they refuse to follow state election laws,” Sanfelippo falsely claimed before going on to say the state needs to “enforce our election laws and restore confidence in the outcomes.”

One Democratic state senator said Sanfelippo and other Republicans are espousing views contradictory to the nation’s founding principles.

“Flirting with the idea of overturning 3 million-plus votes and instead inserting their will in its place, without a shred of proof, is anti-democratic. It’s fascism,” said Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee). “And we should not stand for it.”

Sanfelippo did not respond to an email or messages left on his office phone and cell phone.

A September report in The Atlantic magazine detailed how Trump’s campaign was contacting top Republicans in swing states to see if they could subvert legal election results by appointing Trump loyalists as electors. 

Wisconsin law does not allow that and instead requires each party with a candidate on the ballot to choose electors. The electors of whichever party wins are then bound by law to cast their votes for the winning candidate. 

“Wisconsin’s Legislature does not have a role in deciding which electors go to the Electoral College after the election,” Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney told UpNorthNews in September.

Sanfelippo’s suggestion comes three days after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) lied about election “irregularities” (none has been reported) and ordered the Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections to investigate the election.

That sort of blatant attempt to baselessly call into question election results is dangerous in both the short-term and long-term health of the nation, Larson said.

“It should no longer be treated as a legitimate standpoint of one of the two parties,” Larson said. “It should be viewed as something tiptoeing on despotism and fascism.” 

Unlike Vos, Sanfelippo provided examples of the supposed “irregularities,” but none of them hold any water. 

The representative falsely claimed the Wisconsin Elections Commission “ignored state law” by not purging some 200,000 voters from the voter rolls based on data known to contain errors. In fact, the Elections Commission followed a ruling by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to not strike those voters from the record; the case went before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in September, and justices have not yet issued a ruling.

Sanfelippo also falsely claimed local clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties “colluded” to designate 250,000 voters as indefinitely confined, a classification that does not require a voter ID to be presented. It is unclear from where Sanfelippo got this data, and Magney could not immediately be reached for clarification or confirmation. 

In a May 20 PowerPoint, which appears to be the most recently available official report on indefinitely confined voters, the Elections Commission said there were 199,544 indefinitely confined voters in the whole state. 

An Oct. 29 article from the conservative MacIver News Service, which did not cite its sources, claims there were 243,900 indefinitely confined voters throughout the entire state (just 53,494 of those were in Milwaukee County and 24,446 were in Dane County, according to the report).

Sanfelippo took further aim at Madison for the city’s “Democracy in the Park” events, which allowed voters to drop off absentee ballots with city poll workers at public parks. He falsely claimed the events amounted to illegal early voting, a claim Vos and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald made in September when they sent the city a cease-and-desist letter

That claim misrepresents what early voting actually is. The process allows voters to cast absentee ballots in-person up to two weeks before an election; voters can receive a ballot at their local clerk’s office and fill it out on the spot. Madison’s events were essentially a spin on absentee ballot drop boxes, which allowed voters to deposit filled-out absentee ballots—but not receive a blank ballot—while avoiding the US Postal Service, which Trump and Postmaster Louis DeJoy tried to slow down before the election. 

Sanfelippo lied that Democracy in the Park’s alleged illegality was “confirmed by a court ruling.” There was in fact no court ruling whatsoever on the program.

Finally, Sanfelippo falsely claimed third-party presidential candidates were kept off ballots to “protect the ‘chosen party’ candidates.” That was an apparent shot at the Elections Commission and the state Supreme Court, which blocked rapper Kanye West and Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from appearing on ballots.

West’s campaign filed papers late, and Hawkins’ running mate, Angela Walker, listed an incorrect address on some papers that invalidated enough signatures to prevent the pair from reaching the minimum of 2,000 to appear on ballots. The state Supreme Court upheld the Election Commission’s decision to keep Hawkins and Walker off the ballot.