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Sheriff David Clarke Lead Thousands at Wisconsin Election Audit Rally

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke lead thousands of protestors to the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison on Friday to call on Republican lawmakers to order a forensic audit of the 2020 election. The move follows Arizona’s effort to audit the highly contentious election, contested by former President Donald Trump, who continues to dispute the results of the election.

Following efforts in Arizona, former President Trump has called for forensic audits all across the country and has continued to push his claims of electoral fraud and malfeasance, prompting a group headed by conservative pundit and former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, a staunch Trump supporter, to answer his rallying call and organize the event.

Speaking at the rally on Friday, which saw a turnout numbering in the thousands, Clarke described Wisconsin’s election processes as resembling “that in a banana republic.”

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“We the people must never surrender our right to scrutinize election results,” Clarke said, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Posting on Twitter, PBSWI reporter Will Kenneally  estimated that a few thousand people showed up for the peaceful protest, writing, “There’s a rally now at the state Capitol featuring former Sheriff David Clarke calling on WI legislators to start what they’re calling a forensic audit.”

Clarke did not hold back on his criticism of state Republican legislators in his speech, following Trump’s lead of calling out the state GOP last month. Trump accused Wisconsin Republicans of “working hard to cover up election corruption.”

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Following Trump’s comments, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos shot back at Trump, calling him “misinformed,” but has since walked back his remarks by committing to put more resources into an investigation of the election that he ordered. The investigation will be overseen by a former conservative state Supreme Court justice.

“It is time for this GOP-controlled Legislature to stand up, to exercise their duty under the constitution and not let some other branch trample all over it,” Clarke said to the crowd. According to WPR, the former sheriff reportedly led in a chant of “Vos has gotta go!”

Clarke said that Vos and other state legislators were ignoring the will of the people by stalling on the audit.

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“This is about what you want — not these public rulers. I do not care what they think,” he said. “They were sent here to carry out your will, not theirs.”

In addition to taking shots at legislators, Clarke sharply criticized the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which he claims had become partisan in favor of the Democrats. At the moment, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is made up of three Republican appointees and three Democrats.

WPR reports, “During his remarks, Clarke incorrectly said the commission sent ballots to all Wisconsin voters ahead of the 2020 election. The commission sent ballot applications to voters.”

Republican State Rep. Janel Brandtjen joined Clarke at the event just hours after she said she issued subpoenas for election materials in Brown and Milwaukee counties. Brandtjen, who chairs the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections, told the crowd that she wants to get access to ballots cast in those counties, as well as the voting machines used during the election, to conduct a forensic audit.

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“You deserve to know the truth, and it has been a long process,” Brandtjen said. “It is my job as a representative to do oversight … we are going to fulfill that obligation.”

Beyond Brandtjen’s proposed audit, WPR reports that the GOP is also backing an audit of the election by the Legislature’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. There is also an inquiry being led by private citizens, AP News reported.

Moves to audit the election have faced resistance from Biden’s Department of Justice, which warned that audits like the one Brandtjen is pursuing may be in violation of federal law if they turn over materials like ballots to state lawmakers or third parties.

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