The Wisconsin Elections Commission will meet at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, June 26 to appoint a new administrator. This meeting may be contentious as there is considerable pressure from some Republicans  to not re-appoint Meagan Wolfe as administrator.

This meeting is open to the public via Zoom. The information and some explanatory documents are attached to this article, including a fact-checking document from the commission answering some of the criticisms of the commission and administrator Wolfe. 

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After a long closed session the commission re-convened in public at 5 PM. They then took up the appointment (agenda item D)  of an administrator. Commissioner Thomsen spoke in support of re-appointing the current administrator, Meagan Wolfe, stating that "we must keep her".  He stated that the Senate had promised to confirm Wolfe before the commission put her name forward, and the Senate did confirm her. "We should proclaim how lucky we are to keep Meagan Wolfe" because the Supreme Court has made it impossible to appoint someone when there is not a "vacancy" as defined by the court. He suggested not bringing her  name forward unless the Senate promises to confirm an appointment - and they should do nothing today. 

Chair Don Millis stated that they should take a vote despite the Supreme Court decision in the Prehn case. "Meagan Wolfe has been blamed for conspiracies that have no fact". "It's not about winning or preventing fraud ...  it's about grifting". "We will only give them more ammunition with a hold-over administrator." He said it was unwise to not hold a vote. 

Commissioner Bostelman expressed frustration that Wolfe has been criticized for following the guidance from the commisioners, despite all of the evidence being that the elections in the state have been fair, and that she supports the appointment of Wolfe as administrator.

Commissioner Thomsen also spoke in support of Wolfe, who has decided to stay on despite a very contentious election and threats to Wolfe by conspiracy theorists.  "We need Meagan's guiding hand, her security clearance, her knowledge of our computer systems." She said that "there is no vacancy, and without a vacancy we have an administrator."

Commissioner Spindell stated that Wolfe's problems are caused by bad decisions by the current and prior commissions. He blamed the commission's stance on ballot harvesting, curing of absentee ballots (witness addresses), absentee ballots from outside organizations, the commissioner's response to the audit bureau's report where in some cases the commission could not get four votes on a response. He also brought up the special voting deputies that were discontinued despite Wolfe's recommendation that this program continues through the pandemic. He stated that Wolfe has been extremely responsive to him and the citizens. He still has reservations about the voter registration lists, and called for an independent audit on the issues that have not been resolved and suggested the Democratic commissioners are going to keep the lists from being cleaned up. He made a list of items that should be a priority for the commission to do to clarify to the public that the elections have been fair. He will not support keeping Wolfe because he does not believe she has kept the support of conservatives and Republicans. He then moved that they re-appoint Wolfe to the position.

Thomsen stated that until there is a "vacancy" they cannot vote to re-appoint her, and that he was confused that Spindell stated he would not support Wolfe, and then called for a vote to appoint her.  He said "absent a promise from the Senate to confirm Meagan Wolfe, we should not play this game". 

Note - The Prehn ruling has made life difficult for many agencies including the Election Commission. 

Chair Millis suggested that it is unlikely that the Senate will agree to confirm ahead of time. 

Spindell stated he would change his vote to a yes in an attempt to move the appointment on to the Senate.  Jacobs stated that she believes Thomsen is correct and that there is not a vacancy, and she will abstain from the vote because they do not have jurisdiction to appoint Wolfe. 

Thomsen said that voting on this as an appointment implies that the commission has power that they do not, and that he would abstain on a vote. 

Commissioner Czarnezki agreed that they have no authority on this and that he would abstain despite the fact that Wolfe is more than qualified. 

Chair Millis asked what the impact is of having a vote where they fail to appoint Wolfe and how will that be seen in the inevitable court case that will follow. Would this be interpreted as a lack of support for Wolfe on the part of the commission.  He asked the commission to follow the regular order and move this to the legislature. 

Jacobs and Thomsen and Czarnezki abstained, the other three members voted to appoint, so the vote failed. Thomsen stated that he hopes Wolfe will remain and that the Senate and courts follow their former plans and allow Wolfe to remain. The meeting adjourned at 5:55 PM. 

 

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Steve Hanson
About

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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