Opinion: Election Misinformation Is Often Spread By Those in the Shadows. Shine a Light on Them.

Opinion: Election Misinformation Is Often Spread By Those in the Shadows. Shine a Light on Them.

Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) in a December 2021 episode of "The Ramthun Report." The state lawmaker has embraced conspiracy theories and the QAnon cult. (Screenshot via The Ramthun Report/YouTube)

By Pat Kreitlow

January 7, 2022

Rep. Timothy Ramthun’s assault on elections must be stopped. But first, people need to know who he is.

In this unfortunate age where a former president and his followers will say almost anything to grab power even when they don’t win elections, we have to be careful when combating the way they spread misinformation so as not to unintentionally amplify it. You know the old saying: A lie can be halfway around the world while the truth is still tying its shoes.

One the one hand, we’d like to knock down each and every mistruth being spread by Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport). A member of the Assembly Elections Committee, Ramthun has embraced language of the QAnon cult in his ongoing effort to spread Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

His latest stunt is a patently illegal effort to somehow “reclaim” Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes that were cast for Joe Biden. It’s the latest part of the Trump scheme in our state and elsewhere to overthrow a system of fair elections that has worked for more than 230 years because of its beautiful foundation: The parties and candidates who lose fairly accept their setback and continue working to serve their country until they get the next chance to run.

RELATED: 18 Actions Wisconsin Republicans Have Taken to Undermine the Electoral System

Instead of accepting that Trump lost the popular vote (twice) and now the electoral vote, Ramthun and other Republicans have turned their backs on their constituents and have put all their effort into using lies and conspiracies to cast doubts, restrict some people from voting, and convince other voters that it’s just not worth it to show up on Election Day. Ramthun even went so far as to fake the arithmetic used to calculate how many ballots may have had errors in order to shamelessly sow seeds of doubt.

Biden won Wisconsin’s electoral votes because he got the most votes in an election that was fair, legal, and safe thanks to thousands of local and state elections workers—in Republican areas and Democratic areas alike. No fraud. No unfair tactics. No reason for people like Ramthun to sabotage democracy.

Some may say that even mentioning Ramthun here is helping his cause, and we understand. But we amplify his name for a reason. A lot of people don’t know who their state legislators are. They don’t know Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Racine County is the state’s most powerful Republican or that Sen. Devin LeMahieu of Sheboygan County is the Republican Senate leader. According to a string of statewide polls, even 20%-30% of Wisconsinites say they don’t know enough about US Sen. Ron Johnson to have an opinion on whether he’s good or bad, even after being in office for 11 years. 

That near-anonymity gives them the sense of security to operate in virtual shadows with dirty deeds like these efforts to undermine elections. We are committed to increasing their name ID, to shine a light on how they’re wasting tax money, neglecting their actual duties—like, say, fighting a pandemic—spreading misinformation, and attacking your confidence in elections that are already secure and fair.

We’ll close by amplifying Ramthun’s own language about election integrity. He writes, “There is simply no greater issue to address. Bar none.” We agree. And that’s why this cult-embracing, anti-democracy lawmaker should not be allowed to make any laws when his first term expires after the next free and fair election this November.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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