Poll worker Rebecca Brandt, center, feeds a voting tabulation machine with absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Nov. 3 in Sun Prairie. The entire gym was dedicated to counting the absentee ballots. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)
Poll worker Rebecca Brandt, center, feeds a voting tabulation machine with absentee ballots in the gym at Sun Prairie High School on Nov. 3 in Sun Prairie. The entire gym was dedicated to counting the absentee ballots. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

The representative in charge of the Assembly’s election investigation criticizes his vice chair for suggesting, based on no evidence, declaring the election “null and void.”

Rep. Ron Tusler, the Harrison Republican who chairs the Assembly committee in charge of a baseless investigation into the Nov. 3 election, on Thursday said he “can’t imagine” the investigation will turn up any evidence that suggests there was widespread voter fraud that wrongfully handed Wisconsin to President-elect Joe Biden. 

“I can’t imagine an issue massive enough that we are going to find the election results we had null and void,” Tusler told UpNorthNews. “We’re not even close to that at this point.”

Tusler’s statements came less than a week after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), following the lead of outgoing President Donald Trump and other top Republicans, ordered the investigation and cast doubt on the election results despite there being no evidence of significant fraud or irregularities

Tusler’s downplaying of the possibility of overturning the election also comes after Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), vice chair of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, on Monday suggested tossing the election results by declaring them “null and void” or by having the Republican-led Legislature force electors to vote for Trump instead of Biden. Forcing the electors to vote for the election’s loser isn’t possible under Wisconsin law because the Legislature has no power over selecting electors.

Tusler pushed back on Sanfelippo’s suggestions and said “we’re a long way from that right now,” but he did not rule out the possibility.

“Right now we have a lot of speculation,” Tusler said. “Right now we have a lot of potential issues, but we haven’t reviewed those issues. We haven’t investigated them. The Elections Commission hasn’t found anything that would make us think the election results weren’t valid yet, and maybe they will. But we’re a long way from that. I think that was premature.”

Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,500 votes, according to unofficial results. Tusler said his office has received 3,500 calls from constituents concerned with various alleged irregularities with the election. The Wisconsin Elections Commission has not received a single credible report of substantial irregularities or fraud, even after 55 of the state’s 72 counties have finished certifying results.

“That’s why we canvass, to try to find issues and to get those correct if there is any kind of problem,” Meagan Wolfe, the Elections Commission’s administrator, said in a Thursday call with reporters.

Tusler acknowledged the Elections Commission hasn’t found anything wrong with the election and that “there are connotations” that come with an investigation, but he claimed the investigation was necessary because “it’s important to check someone’s work.”

“We want to bring light to this election, and if there was fraud that occurred, we need to know about it,” Tusler said. “It’s very important that folks understand whether this was a fair election or not.”

There is nothing hidden about elections in Wisconsin. Every step of the electoral process, from voting to canvassing to final certification, is publicly viewable. The Elections Commission also publishes numerous reports on every election, including any documented instances of fraud or irregularities.

In the 2016 presidential election, the commission’s audit found just 23 instances of “suspected election fraud, irregularity, or violation” out of about 3 million votes cast; that works out to an irregularity-rate of 0.008%. Even in that audit, former Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas cautioned the commission was only reporting suspected or possible fraud, not cases in which charges were filed or a conviction was secured.

Tusler said the Committee on Campaigns and Elections will likely hold its first hearings in the next week or two and possibly use subpoena powers to force people to testify if they refuse. He said the investigation will probably take some time, as the Nov. 17 canvassing deadline has not yet passed and the Trump campaign has vowed to request a recount, which Wolfe said would likely extend into early December.

“We’ll keep doing hearings as long as there are unsettled issues that give Wisconsinites significant concern,” Tusler said.