“We have heard enough” Dems walk out on Assembly election hearing

State Sen. Tim Carpenter request Bipartisan Blue Ribbon Task Force to discuss changes
Phill Kline testifies at the Committee on Campaigns and Elections hearing on December 11, 2020.
Phill Kline testifies at the Committee on Campaigns and Elections hearing on December 11, 2020.(Courtesy: WisEYE)
Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 1:04 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Saying “we have heard enough,” Democratic members of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Campaigns and Elections declare they will no longer participate in Friday’s hearing investigating allegations of illegal activity during the November presidential election.

“After a morning of wild conspiracy theories that went unchallenged and uncorrected, it is clear that today’s joint hearing is exactly the kind of disgraceful display that we all feared it would be,” the five Democrats declared in a joint statement.

Describing it as a “sham hearing,” they argued the hearing does not focus on what lawmakers should be prioritizing, pointing to COVID-19 relief as an example.

“This hearing does nothing but undermine our elections and election officials. Witnesses attacked our clerks and poll workers while Republicans gave them no serious opportunity to respond,” they continued.

The five Democrats who signed onto the letter were:

  • State Senator Mark Miller (D - Monona)
  • State Representative Lisa Subeck (D - Madison)
  • State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D - Milwaukee)
  • State Senator Jeff Smith (D - Eau Claire)
  • State Representative Mark Spreitzer (D - Beloit)

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced the hearing last Friday, explaining the Committee on Campaigns and Elections received thousands of complaints about the November vote and has reviewed them over the past month. He did not indicate the nature of the complaints or against whom they were lodged.

On Thursday, committee chair Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) released the list of the people who were invited to testify at the hearing, including talk-show host Dan O’Donnell.

Blue Ribbon Task Force

Shortly after those five Democrats released their statement, state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Madison) released an open letter calling for the creation of a Bipartisan Blue Ribbon Task Force to discuss changes to improve Wisconsin’s voting system.

“After the past few elections, several issues have been raised about what needs to be discussed regarding our election laws,” Carpenter wrote.

Carpenter said the task force should contain an equal number of lawmakers from each party and include input from Gov. Tony Evers and his staff.

One of the suggestions in his letter included allowing absentee ballots to be tabulated immediately. Currently, poll workers needed to wait to start counting those votes and, in polling districts swamped with absentee ballots, the vote totals were not reported until late into the night. Without providing any evidence, the Trump campaign has cited how President-elect Joe Biden took the lead over the president in those late night hours as an indication of malfeasance.

Carpenter also urged ironing out the rules over absentee ballots, which has also been at the heart of President Donald Trump’s lawsuits, including one that rejected by a state court on Friday.

This story is still developing. NBC15 will provide updates as the hearing continues.

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