Articles of Impeachment Filed Against Embattled Wisconsin Election Chief Meagan Wolfe

Wisconsin's chief electoral officer is the target of an impeachment resolution filed by five members of the State Assembly, who are alleging maladministration.
Articles of Impeachment Filed Against Embattled Wisconsin Election Chief Meagan Wolfe
The Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, Wis., on Dec. 24, 2011. (Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images)
Steven Kovac

Meagan Wolfe, the controversial administrator of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC), is facing actions calling for her impeachment.

On Sept. 21, five Republican state assembly members presented both houses of the Legislature with a 23-page resolution containing 15 articles accusing Ms. Wolfe of maladministration in office.

The lawmakers further alleged that Ms. Wolfe either created or implemented a string of policies and practices that run contrary to state law.

Since the 2020 presidential election, several actions by the WEC under Ms. Wolfe’s guidance have been declared illegal by Wisconsin courts.

Cosponsors of the resolution are Reps. Janel Brandtjen, Scott Allen, Elijah Behnke, Ty Bodden, and Chuck Wichgers—all Republicans.

 Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy Janel Brandtjen)
Wisconsin State Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy Janel Brandtjen)

Some Republicans believe Ms. Wolfe's policies and directives favored the Democrats and may have cost former President Donald Trump the Badger State’s 10 electoral votes in the hotly contested and chaotic 2020 election.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Congress acknowledged the WEC's tally that President Trump had lost Wisconsin to Joe Biden by less than 21,000 votes.

Just Following Orders

Within hours of the filing of the resolution, Ms. Wolfe issued a statement responding to the charges, saying they “misrepresent my actions and how this agency works.”
Ms. Wolfe has consistently maintained that she is not a policymaker and has done nothing but follow WEC’s orders. However, critics says this attempt to pass the buck runs contrary to the state law creating the Wisconsin Election Commission, which reads in pertinent part, "The election commission shall be under the direction and supervision of an administrator who shall be appointed by a majority of the members of the commission."

Ms. Wolfe stated, “Every major decision relating to the 2020 election was made by the agency’s six bipartisan commissioners in public meetings.”

In her response, she disputed the veracity of the claims made in the resolution, pointing out that numerous investigations have shown that “Wisconsin’s elections are run with integrity.”

“It’s irresponsible for this group of politicians to willfully distort the truth,” she said.

Calling the attempt at impeachment “unlikely to succeed,” Ms. Wolfe urged election officials to start preparing for the next presidential election—an election, she said earlier, that she intends to manage despite a lack of Republican support for her to continue on in what they say should be a non-partisan position.

Claims of Maladministration

Some of the allegations against Ms. Wolfe contained in the articles include her allowing election workers and even employees of non-profit organizations to play an active role in correcting omissions and errors on an absentee voter’s certificate or ballot envelope.

Wisconsin law mandates that voters do their own corrections.

Another article alleges that Ms. Wolfe failed to create an effective verification system capable of preventing bad actors from filing numerous absentee ballot applications and receiving ballots in other people’s names at different addresses.

Real-life examples of such occurrences were included in the resolution.

“When a lawsuit sought declaratory and injunctive relief to compel Administrator Wolfe to address this dereliction, she engaged the services of a private law firm, the Mark Elias Group, in an attempt to avoid remedying the situation,” the resolution said.

Mark Elias is a top election strategist for the national Democrat Party.

More Outside Influence

According to the resolution, Ms. Wolfe also “facilitated, promoted, and encouraged the employment of partisan, out-of-state residents to administer Wisconsin’s elections in 2020.”

Some of the outside influencers mentioned in the resolution were David Becker and David Plouffe.

“David Becker, a highly partisan individual employed by George Soros and the administrator of the partisan Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) played a central role in executing this scheme,” the resolution alleged.

Another high-profile Democrat operative named in the resolution was “David Plouffe, one of former President Obama’s principal advisors and the author of ‘The Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump.’”

Mr. Plouffe’s task was overseeing “a plan aimed at staffing the offices of the largest cities in swing states with partisan employees and agents to administer the election in those cities,” Article 7 alleges.

Follow the Money

 Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg attend the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2019. (Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)
Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg attend the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2019. (Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

The funding for the operation came from grant money awarded to localities by the Zuckerberg-supported left-leaning NGO Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL).

The stated aim of the grants was to help communities conduct safe elections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wisconsin’s five largest cities; Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay, received grant payments totaling $8.8 million. That represented 86 percent of the total CTCL grant funds awarded in Wisconsin. The remaining 14 percent was divided between smaller jurisdictions throughout the state.

As post-election expenditure reports submitted to Ms. Wolfe by the five cities showed, very few grant dollars were spent on plexiglass shields and personal protection equipment (PPE) for clerks and poll workers.

For example, Green Bay reported spending only one percent of its grant award on PPE.

The five cities were criticized in the articles for their “lack of transparency in the financial reporting.”

The resolution raised the question of whether the vast majority of the funds were used “to promote voter turnout among specific demographic groups favored by partisan actors.”

According to Article 11, Ms. Wolfe told a legislative hearing that she was not even aware of the CTCL grant funding until she learned of it from a city’s financial report on Aug. 30, 2020—a contention the resolution said “strains credibility.”

To receive a grant, municipal election officials agreed by contract to install absentee ballot drop boxes, “cooperate with CTCL directives, and follow the instructions of CTCL’s designated personnel in administering the elections,” alleges the resolution.

A Breach of Trust

Article 7 highlights the alleged role of Brooklyn, New York, resident Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, a well-known Democrat activist, in the administering of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin.

Mr. Spitzer-Rubenstein was recommended to Ms. Wolfe by Milwaukee election chief Claire Woodall-Vogg. Ms. Wolfe then forwarded the recommendation to big city clerks throughout the state.

The article reads, “As a direct result of Administrator Wolfe’s recommendation, Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, a designated ‘partner’ of Zuckerberg and CTCL, assumed control over various aspects of the Green Bay election.”

In Green Bay, Mr. Spitzer-Rubenstein is alleged to have overridden the city clerk, signed contracts, controlled access to a key location, and decided to accept ballots after the polls closed on election night.

He is also alleged to have set up election systems, collected ballots, and created absentee ballot logs in Racine.

In Milwaukee, Mr. Spitzer-Rubenstein is alleged to have recruited other out-of-state personnel, had exclusive access to critical information, and even authored the city’s Election Day Manual. He also supposedly had a hand in the creation of a force of what the articles call “ballot navigators.”

 Residents drop mail-in ballots in a ballot box outside of the Tippecanoe branch library in Milwaukee, Wis., on Oct. 20, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Residents drop mail-in ballots in a ballot box outside of the Tippecanoe branch library in Milwaukee, Wis., on Oct. 20, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Such navigators could visit citizens’ homes, “represent themselves as being from the city,” and potentially offer assistance in completing absentee ballots and returning them to the clerk’s office.

“By participating in and facilitating this scheme, Administrator Wolfe betrayed the trust of Wisconsin citizens,” the resolution said.

The use of absentee ballot drop-boxes in the 2020 election cycle was later declared illegal by the state Supreme Court.

Nursing Home Law Ignored

Another charge in the articles is that five of WEC’s six commissioners, under Ms. Wolfe’s leadership, disregarded a state law that required absentee ballots be delivered to and returned from nursing home residents by Special Voting Deputies appointed by the municipal clerk.

According to state statute, one of the duties of the Special Voting Deputies is to assess the mental competence of would-be nursing home voters.

“Administrator Wolfe publicly and privately supported this illegal scheme and encouraged Wisconsin clerks to participate in it,” the resolution reads.

Another article accuses Ms. Wolfe of failing to construct a system by which local election clerks can quickly and easily identify registrants who may have become disqualified from voting due to being adjudicated mentally incompetent.

In a related matter, the articles allege that Ms. Wolfe’s directive to the clerks “permitting a spouse, campaign volunteer, or other agents to submit absentee ballot applications on behalf of electors” contradicted the plain language of Wisconsin law.

The Election Administration Manual for Wisconsin Municipal Clerks also instructed the clerks to treat the delivery of an absentee ballot application request by an individual other than the registered elector as a “by-mail request.”

Mishandling of Actual Ballots

According to the resolution, Ms. Wolfe’s mishandling of absentee ballot applications “paralleled her maladministration of absentee ballot returns.”

After the 2020 presidential election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the state election law does not allow agents or anyone other than the elector to submit an elector’s absentee ballot directly to a clerk’s office and that a person-to-person exchange between the elector and the clerk, or clerk’s authorized representative was required.

“Therefore, Administrator Wolfe’s memos advising otherwise conflicted with the law and were rightly void,” the resolution said.

No Verification of Identity

The articles also allege that Ms. Wolfe allowed the potential circumventing of Wisconsin’s proof of identification laws through the WisVote online absentee ballot request form—a method WEC lacked the legal authority to establish.

The resolution asserts, “The underlying issue lies in mailing absentee ballots without proof of identification.”

They also point out that WEC has no legal authority to receive absentee ballot applications. By law, these applications are required to be submitted to the municipal clerk.

An intermediary such as WEC is not one of the six statutorily specified methods to obtain an absentee ballot, according to the resolution.

A Rolling Polling Place

Article 10 alleges that Ms. Wolfe allowed the use by the city of Racine of a converted recreational vehicle as a mobile polling place in violation of a Wisconsin statute that mandates, “Each polling place shall be accessible to all individuals with disabilities.”

A survey of every new polling place is required to ensure compliance. No such survey was conducted, according to the articles.

It is also alleged that, “The RV became a tool for partisan politics, favoring certain voters over others (by) making it easier for the preferred voters to cast their ballots.”

Inflated Voter Rolls

The failure by Ms. Wolfe to remove ineligible names from the state voter roll was outlined in Article 14.
According to WEC’s own figures, the state of Wisconsin has 4.5 million voting-age people but there are 7.1 million names on the state voter roll.

Under Ms. Wolfe’s leadership, the article alleges that “names are never removed from the voter roll, even in cases of individuals who have passed away.

“Rather than designating these deceased individuals as ‘ineligible’ voters, as the statute would dictate, Administrator Wolfe categorizes them as 'inactive' voters, thereby allowing their names to persist on the voter roll.

“At best, this practice of retaining deceased individuals on the voter roll needlessly complicates the list, making it more challenging for auditors.

“At worst, it provides a reservoir of names that can be ‘activated’ two weeks before an election and ‘deactivated’ two weeks after by anyone with access to the WisVote system.

“This process operates in a manner that conceals the identities of both the ‘activator’ and the ‘deactivator.’

“Administrator Wolfe’s oversight of this problematic system is unacceptable,” according to the resolution.

Nosey Questions

The last article alleges that Ms. Wolfe failed to prevent and, in fact, promoted the use of a WEC voter registration form that solicits “more information from citizens than what was authorized by Wisconsin law.”

On Sept. 5, 2023, a circuit court judge in Waukesha County threw out the form, finding it did not conform to state law requirements and that the WEC had never properly adopted it.

The resolution concluded by initiating Wolfe’s impeachment and finding the WEC in need of “substantial reform or, possibly dissolution.”

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at [email protected]