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Wisconsin election clerks told by investigator to keep data

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The leader of a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin on Monday sent county clerks an email asking them to retain all records related to the election and notify him if any had been destroyed.

The message from former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is leading the probe, comes after he initially asked the Wisconsin Election Commission for the data. But elections are run locally and all of the ballots, voting machines and other data are maintained by county and municipal officials.

Gableman said in the Monday email that he also intends to contact every municipal clerk once he obtains the emails from the state election commission. In the meantime, he asks the county clerks to forward his request to retain the records.

State law requires clerks to save records related to voting for 22 months after an election. The language specifically includes memory devices but says nothing about voting equipment itself or the software that supports it.

Gableman said his request covers “otherwise routine software updates to election systems that might have in the past or will in the future corrupt or erase and/or otherwise compromise relevant records, or which might obstruct examination and investigation.”

President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by just over 20,000 votes in Wisconsin. The results survived recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties and numerous court challenges, but some Republicans are pushing for broader reviews of how the election was run.

Republican lawmakers have said their intention is not to overturn Biden’s win, but to look for ways to make future elections more secure. Democrats, and some Republicans, have said they are trying to undermine faith in elections, which evidence has repeatedly shown were fair and accurate.

Republican lawmakers ordered a review, which is ongoing, by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, under pressure from Trump and those who believe the election was stolen, ordered a separate investigation led by Gableman.

On Friday, about 100 people who don’t trust the audit bureau or Gableman to do fair investigations, called on Vos and other legislative Republican leaders to get behind a “full forensic physical and cyber audit.”

Calls for election reviews come as prosecutors in Wisconsin have brought election fraud charges against just two people out of about 3.3 million who voted.

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