(Illustration by Morgaine Ford-Workman)
(Illustration by Morgaine Ford-Workman)

Tim Michels releases a convoluted plan that would implement weaker election standards than currently exist and fire all administrators, meaning no one would be in charge of elections in Wisconsin for a time.

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels introduced a plan Thursday to replace the current bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and repeal all existing WEC guidance to local election officials, even though Wisconsin currently has secure elections and no indication of any widespread fraud. 

“It demonstrates a total lack of understanding of how elections work,” said WEC Chair Ann Jacobs in a Twitter post. “There would be no guidance for elections at all? And no staff? Just an empty office? Who will administer registrations? The Wisvote database? And if there’s a special election right after this mass firing? Who will administer the election? Are you going to tell clerks to wing it? Do whatever they want?”

Michels’ plan, which is similar to those of his opponents in the Republican primary, reaffirms that all of the GOP candidates want to gut the WEC and replace it with something either blatantly partisan or something so unworkable as to throw election security—and public confidence in elections—into chaos.

Even without a special election, there will be a statewide race for justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the month after the next gubernatorial term begins. 

Michels’ plan also calls for voter registration rolls to be “cleaned up” twice a year. But administrators already conduct daily checks to find voters who have died or become ineligible to vote. The state also checks four times each year to determine whether voters have moved.

Republican criticism of the Wisconsin Elections Commission—which was created by Republicans in 2016—did not ramp up until President Joe Biden’s victory in November 2020. Since then, they’ve spouted a constant stream of lies and misinformation about the WEC,creating an environment where many Republican voters now believe—incorrectly–that fraud tainted the results.

If Michel or any of his Republican primary opponents get their way, it would mean that the partisan politicians like the governor, state legislators, and even the secretary of state would be given oversight over their own elections.