Legislator: GOP Colleagues Underestimate the Damage to Democracy from Election Lies

State Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Town of Brunswick, Eau Claire Co.) frequently conducts roadside listening sessions from his truck.

State Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Town of Brunswick, Eau Claire Co.) frequently conducts roadside listening sessions from his truck. (Photo via campaign Facebook page)

By Pat Kreitlow

January 27, 2022

Smith says many know better but are going along because it helps them stay in power.

A Democratic member of the Senate Elections Committee in the Wisconsin Legislature believes many of his Republican colleagues are aware they’re not being truthful in their claims about elections fraud—but they don’t see the harm it’s doing to democracy if it helps them stay in power.

Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) told hosts on the Up North Podcast there are two kinds of GOP members whose rhetoric or silence is damaging public confidence in elections repeatedly shown to be secure and fair.

“I’m pretty disgusted,” Smith said, “and one of the reasons is because I truly believe that the majority party members who are either silent—so that they’re enablers that way—or are actually marching out with the beat of the drum on this stuff and hitting it all the time know it’s wrong. But they think it won’t do any harm. It’s just gonna win elections for them. It’s just going to put them in a good place to keep their positions that they have. And that bothers me that they don’t think that this is damaging. This is very, very damaging to our elections and our democracy.”

Republicans in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the US have taken numerous actions to undermine voters’ faith in elections by repeatedly casting doubts about whether Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race, despite no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred and official results showing Biden won the election. 

Four Republican candidates seeking to be elected the next Wisconsin Secretary of State propose reducing the scope of or abolishing entirely the Wisconsin Elections Commission that oversees state elections. Republicans have proposed making ballot drop boxes illegal in Wisconsin, but an appeals court has blocked an order from a Waukesha County judge that would have eliminated their use in most cases, meaning drop boxes will be legal at least through the Feb. 15 primary.  

[Editor’s Note: The Up North Podcast is a separate entity from UpNorthNews. Managing Editor Pat Kreitlow is one of the show’s co-hosts and also served with Smith in the Legislature from 2007-2011.]


  • 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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