After retaining a Wisconsin law firm that represented former President Donald Trump in his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s campaign has launched a website encouraging voters to report instances of suspected election fraud.
The move comes as Republicans have raised doubts about confidence in election results despite recounts, court rulings and nonpartisan audits that confirmed Joe Biden’s victory over Trump by about 21,000 votes in the 2020 presidential count in Wisconsin.
Prosecutors have charged two dozen cases of fraud as of March this year related to the 2020 presidential election out of more than 3.2 million votes cast. Wisconsin taxpayers footed a bill of more than $1 million for a review of the 2020 election that produced no tangible results.
Johnson has acknowledged Biden’s presidential victory while claiming there were “irregularities” in the election. Wednesday’s website launch comes as Johnson has faced increased scrutiny for his office’s role in the plot to recognize fake slates of electors as Congress was set to certify the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021.
Johnson faces Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin’s contentious U.S. Senate race on Nov. 8.
The new website, SecureElectionsWi.com, features a video on how to identify “disqualifying issues” with absentee ballots, including verifying that the forms are properly signed and filled out.
“If the signature is missing or the address is incorrect,” the video instructs election observers, “object to the chief election inspector.”
It includes a form in which someone can fill out their contact information and details of a purported “election integrity incident.”
“Everyone in Wisconsin should have the assurance that their vote counts and it will not be canceled by a fraudulent vote,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are doing everything in our power in 2022 to restore confidence in our election by ensuring Wisconsin elections laws are fully complied with.”
Johnson’s campaign could use the complaints filed to its team of attorneys to question or challenge the results of the election. The campaign also has staff members appointed to coordinate hundreds of poll watchers.
A spokeswoman for Barnes on Wednesday derided Johnson’s initiative.
“Ron Johnson is the last person Wisconsin voters should trust to ‘restore confidence’ in our elections,” spokeswoman Maddy McDaniel said. “It’s shameful Johnson is casting doubt and refusing to say whether he will accept the results of the election, but voting is safe and secure and people should be empowered to cast their vote and know it will be counted.”
Ben Voelkel, an aide to Johnson, said the campaign is “doing everything that we can” to play a part in the election security process.
“We’re allowed to have election workers, election observers. It’s a citizen’s right to be a part of the process,” Voelkel said. “We’re just working to make sure that we’ve got a robust program to make sure everything goes in accordance with state law.”
The launch of the site follows news this week that Johnson’s campaign hired a firm headed by attorney James Troupis, who was allegedly at the center of the plot to recognize Republican electors in what was the last-ditch push by the former president and his allies to stymie President Joe Biden’s election certification on the day of the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, Johnson’s campaign made about $20,000 in payments to the Troupis firm since July. Those payments included $13,287 on July 15 for “legal consulting” and $7,000 on Aug. 18 for “recount: legal consulting.” The campaign has said it would be “reckless” to be unprepared for a situation such as a recount given the tight nature of elections in Wisconsin.
Troupis, a former Dane County Circuit Judge, unsuccessfully sought to throw out hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots in 2020 when he was hired by Trump to oversee recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties following Trump’s defeat in Wisconsin.
The U.S. House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol later revealed Troupis played a key role in an attempt to put in place Republican electors in states like Wisconsin, where Trump was trying to overturn election results.
Johnson this summer acknowledged that his office was involved in an effort to give then-Vice President Mike Pence packets of false electors from Wisconsin and Michigan. That plan was never executed after Pence’s team rejected the packets, and Johnson has downplayed his involvement since.
Also on Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that four assistant U.S. attorneys will lead the department’s own election security effort in the run-up to Election Day, zeroing in on “complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the upcoming election.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ron Johnson launches website seeking reports of voter fraud
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