Ann Jacobs
(Photo by Jacobs Injury Law. Photo illustration by Pat Kreitlow.)

In hindsight, she says the Republican “investigation” of Wisconsin’s 2020 election did nothing but issue subpoenas and order office supplies.

Wisconsin Elections Commission member and former chair Ann Jacobs maintains a sense of humor about her critics, even the ones who would like to see her in court, in jail, or worse.

“They would like us to quit or die,” she said to the Washington Post. “There’s not a lot of room between those two, although the number of people who want us to be hanged for treason seems to be directly proportionate to having an AOL account.”

Jacobs was interviewed recently by Post staff writer Dave Weigel for his political column “The Trailer.” The Q&A was posted Thursday evening. She started by outlining the difference in reactions between those who were on the losing side of elections in 2020 compared to 2018 and 2016.

“In 2016, there were a lot of people on the left in Wisconsin … saying that the exit poll interviews weren’t jibing with the election results,” said Jacobs. “My attitude was: ‘Come on, guys. This is the result. I don’t like it. You don’t like it, but we need to move on.’”

“Two years later,” she continued, “I’m at the victory party for Gov. [Tony] Evers. It’s 2 a.m., but there I was, waiting with everyone else, because we knew the city of Milwaukee had tens of thousands of absentee ballots that would be reported at any moment, because we knew, in Wisconsin, you’re not allowed to start counting those ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day. They come in, Evers wins, but you don’t get two years of complaints from Scott Walker that it was stolen. This [2020] is very different.”

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin’s electoral votes in 2020 by beating former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by just under 21,000 votes, a victory that has withstood recounts, multiple state and federal lawsuits, an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, and a report by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. An Associated Press review of Wisconsin and other battleground states also found far too little fraud to have tipped the election for Trump.

Jacobs tackles the assertion of criminal activity leveled by Racine County’s Republican Sheriff Christopher Schmaling about helping nursing home residents vote, implying he ignored the part of state statutes that allow absentee ballots to be sent to residents if special voting deputies cannot reach a resident.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is a frequent target on Jacobs’ Twitter account for a probe he claims to be conducting of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin. Hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Gableman’s secretive and error-riddled activity did not even rise to the level of an “investigation,” in the estimation of one judge presiding over a case involving open records requests not being honored by Vos and Gableman.

“The most striking takeaway is that the recent documents that were just disclosed [in the open records lawsuit], which are supposedly all the documents they were working on in the beginning part of this investigation, say they did nothing but issue subpoenas and order office supplies,” Jacobs said. “They fabricated a lot of things. The idea that there was 100 percent turnout in Milwaukee nursing homes, for example—that’s not true. There’s an allegation in his report of noncitizens voting. There isn’t a name, there’s not a single citation, it’s just asserted.”

Jacobs was asked why she hasn’t quit due to the constant criticism from Trump supporters, the assertions from people like Sen. Ron Johnson that the Legislature should be able to determine who won elections, and threats by legislative Republicans to abolish the commission—created by Republicans in 2015.

“I actually re-upped for five more years,” she said. “Look, I don’t want to make this sound as grandiose as it’s going to sound. But in 2021, as we were listening to people attacking the right of a person’s vote to be counted, it genuinely felt like democracy was in a fragile position in Wisconsin. It still feels that way. And I love my state. My family has lived here for a very, very, very long time, and I didn’t want to see us go down that rabbit hole.”