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False Reports of Wisconsin Assembly’s Action on 2020 Electors

False Reports of Wisconsin Assembly’s Action on 2020 Electors

Quick Take

A resolution introduced in the Wisconsin Assembly to reverse the state’s 2020 presidential electoral votes for President Joe Biden was referred to the Rules Committee on Jan. 25. The committee chair tweeted that the resolution was “illegal” and would not advance. But conservative websites falsely reported the assembly passed the resolution.


Full Story

Recounts and court rulings have found that Joe Biden beat then-President Donald Trump by more than 20,000 votes in the state of Wisconsin in 2020. Independent reviews also have found no signs of widespread voter fraud, despite Trump’s baseless claim that he won the state.

But Republican Rep. Timothy Ramthun introduced a resolution in the Wisconsin Assembly on Jan. 25 to reverse state electors who voted for Biden in the November election. In a required procedural move, the resolution was referred to the assembly’s Rules Committee, which schedules floor votes.

Social media posts, however, falsely claimed the assembly passed the resolution.

The conservative website Gateway Pundit, in a tweet that was later taken down, claimed: “Wisconsin Assembly Votes to Withdraw Its 10 Electors for Joe Biden in 2020 Election.”

Kari Lake, a Trump-backed Arizona gubernatorial candidate, also tweeted that headline to her followers.

But Jim Steineke, the assembly majority leader and Rules Committee chair, took to Twitter on Jan. 25 to explain what actually happened.

“Disinformation spreads quickly,” Steineke, a Republican, wrote. “Ramthun introduced a resolution with zero support (no cosponsors) B/c it was a privileged resolution, it has to be referred to committee … There was no vote on it,” Steineke also said.

Earlier that night, Steineke tweeted: “Rep Ramthun just attempted to pass an Assembly resolution to recall WI’s presidential electors. Not only is it illegal, it’s just plain unconstitutional. As chair of the Rules Committee, there is ZERO chance I will advance this illegal resolution. #EndofStory”

The Gateway Pundit article and headline were later rewritten to claim that the resolution was “advanced” to the Rules Committee, rather than passed by the assembly. But the site continued to misrepresent the legislative action. The article does not report that the resolution was referred to committee. Nor does it report that the Rules Committee chair called the resolution “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and said it would not get to the floor for a vote.

That misleading version of the article remains online, where it was picked up by others. The false headline also is still circulating online.

Political science experts interviewed by FactCheck.org said Steineke was correct in saying that there’s no legal authority for state legislatures to overturn electoral votes.

Ramthun “might as well try to pass legislation declaring that beer is the state bird of Wisconsin,” Kenneth R. Mayer, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told us in an email.

Efforts in battleground states to overturn the election are “fringe” attempts that will not be successful, said Barry C. Burden, also a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The federal Electoral Count Act relies on procedures established before the election, which in most cases means a state’s certified popular vote is used to determine the winner of all the electoral votes, Burden said in an email to FactCheck.org.

Every lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results has been dismissed or resolved, Burden noted. “There is no legal path for electoral votes from the 2020 election to be reclaimed or replaced,” he said.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

Beck, Molly. “’It’s just plain unconstitutional’: Wisconsin GOP leaders again reject resolution to ‘pull back’ 2020 electoral votes.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 26 Jan 2022.

Burden, Barry C. Professor of political science, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Email to FactCheck.org. 26 Jan 2022.

Mayer, Kenneth R. Professor of political science, La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Email to FactCheck.org. 26 Jan 2022.

Mimms, Sarah. “Trump Supporters Believe Wisconsin Withdrew Its Electoral College Voters For Joe Biden. It Never Happened.” BuzzFeed News. 26 Jan 2022.

White, Laurel. “Nonpartisan review of Wisconsin’s 2020 election finds no widespread fraud.” 22 Oct 2021.

Wisconsin Elections Commission. 2020 Fall General Election Results. 3 Nov 2020.

Wisconsin State Legislature. Assembly Rule 43. Privileged Resolutions. Accessed 27 Jan 2022.



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