MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s secretary of state has no role in elections, but that could change if Republicans are able to flip the seat this year and pass a law that would empower the office with far more responsibilities.
All three GOP candidates competing for the nomination in Tuesday’s primary support the shift and echo former President Donald Trump’s false claims that fraud cost him the 2020 election.
If successful, the move would be a bold attempt to shift power to an office Republicans hope to control going into the 2024 presidential election and would represent a reversal from just six years ago when Republicans established the Wisconsin Elections Commission with bipartisan support. In 2020, Democrat Joe Biden won Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes in the presidential race.
“This is not about policy,” said David Becker, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney who heads the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research. “It’s about election outcomes and only election outcomes.”
Once an under-the-radar contest overshadowed by campaigns for governor and state attorney general, races for secretary of state are drawing tremendous interest and money this year, driven largely by the 2020 election, when voting systems and processes came under attack by Trump and his supporters. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or manipulation of voting systems occurring in the 2020 election.