MADISON — Almost a week after 10 fake Republican electors admitted they signed documents falsely stating Donald Trump won the 2020 election, the state’s Attorney General is instilling faith in Wisconsin’s election system.
“We have been actively involved in working to protect democracy,” Josh Kaul said. “We’re committed to continuing to do that, and I’m confident that as we continue doing that in the year ahead, we will be successful and continuing to ensure that we have safe, secure, free, and fair elections in Wisconsin.”
Kaul discussed what he considers wins for his office over the last year; fighting for the restoration of abortion rights, battling with drug manufacturers for accountability for the opioid epidemic, and his work in protecting schools.
But looking ahead to the next year, the election is forefront of his office’s focus. He points out this is not a partisan effort. He says the systems have been tested in the last two presidential elections in 2016 and 2020. Both elections were decided by less than a percentage point and the winner represented one of the two major political parties.
“Ultimately, what all that showed is that the results we have are results that reflect the will of the voters,” Kaul said. “We’re going to continue to ensure that that remains the case but we have an election system that we can and should be proud of in Wisconsin, where voters’ choice is what’s reflected in our results.”
But it’s ultimately the voter’s decision on whether they believe Kaul.
“We have faith in the system,” Chuck from Madison said. “We know, that done right, it’s fair and equitable and the winner is chosen.”
“I feel this has been a really longstanding issue,” Carsyn Barber, a UW Graduate Student said. “I feel like every state has this, especially swing states. I do have confidence [in the system].”
While there Is some confidence in the elections, it’s not a universal feeling.
“In the state, country, zero,” Dale Weller of Wisconsin said. “Absolutely none, whatsoever.”
Weller says he plans on voting, but he’s not confident the true outcome will be known.
“At what point do the ‘sheeple’ wake up and say, this is not right?” Weller said.
Views like this are why Kaul is so focused on restoring faith in the system. He says his office plans to work with different partners across the state to ensure nothing goes awry in the 2024 election. He plans to work with both federal and local law enforcement agencies and also prosecutors’ offices to address any dangers to the security of elections.
“We’re going to do very similar things to what we did prior to 2020,” Kaul said. “Before the 2020 election, we wanted to make sure that people knew that if there was intimidation of voters at the polls, that’s a crime and that we were very serious about holding people accountable if they committed that crime. It’s vital that people are able to exercise their right to vote without interference.”
Kaul also wants to make sure everyone’s voice can be heard.
“We’re going to ensure that people’s basic voting rights are protected and if there are efforts to undermine those,” Kaul said.
But ultimately, whoever comes out on top after the election, Kaul says he and his office will stand behind the outcome because of how well the system works.
“We are prepared to defend the results of the elections,” Kaul said. “We have been at the center of national attention in election after election. Those elections have been tested. There can be no serious question that our election results reflect the will of the voters and that they are free and fair. There have been a lot of election denial claims and a lot of conspiracy theories. But at the end of the day, what a review of the facts has shown is that our election officials in Wisconsin are hardworking and doing excellent work and that the results that we get reflect the will of the voters.”
As for the investigation into the 10 fake republican electors, Kaul would not confirm or deny if his office is investigating them. But he says, anyone who attempts to meddle in an election should expect consequences.
“I think anybody who committed a crime to try to overturn the results of an election needs to be held accountable,” Kaul said. “We take our role in protecting our democracy very seriously at the Department of Justice.”