MADISON — Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg’s “flair for drama” is raising more questions about the integrity of November’s election in the Democrat-heavy city. It also underscores her cozy and questionable relationship with private “safe and secure” election groups funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Ryan Chew, who served as Wisconsin state lead for the Elections Group, wrote Woodall-Vogg a congratulatory email in the wee hours of election night — not long after Milwaukee County’s “lump-sum contribution” turned the tight presidential race between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican President Donald Trump “on its side.”
“Damn Claire, you have a flair for drama, delivering just the margin needed at 3 a.m.,” wrote Chew in the email at 4:07 a.m., Nov. 4. “I bet you had those votes counted at midnight, and just wanted to keep the world waiting!”
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, after the city and county of Milwaukee dumped tens of thousands of previously uncounted absentee and early-voting ballots into the final tally, Trump went from a 109,000-vote lead to trailing Biden by 11,000 votes in pivotal battleground Wisconsin.
“Once votes were tallied up shortly after 3 a.m., the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission scooped up the results and left the building, with a police escort waiting to take her the short drive to the Milwaukee County Courthouse where votes would be delivered to county officials,” the newspaper reported on Nov. 4.
The county didn’t finish its full count until around 4 a.m.
At about 1:30 a.m., Trump told the nation that he had won the election. He said he would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stop all voting at that point because, “We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.”
Chew’s email to Woodall-Vogg sounds particularly troubling in that light.
Chew didn’t return a voicemail message seeking comment. Nor did Woodall-Vogg respond to Wisconsin Spotlight’s questions.
Did she indeed deliver “just the margin needed” for Biden to win? Was it just one of those jokes “nonpartisan” elections officials and activists share when they think no one is looking? Does Woodall-Vogg see how the email from such a controversial liberal activist as Ryan Chew might be concerning to voters questioning the integrity of the presidential election?
All we know is what Woodall-Vogg said in response to Chew’s curious email.
“LoL. I just wanted to wait to say I had been awake for a full 24 hours!” the Milwaukee Election Commission director wrote. Ahh, just another tireless public official doing the work of the people.
We know that Chew, former long-time deputy director of Elections for Cook County, Ill., was a fierce critic of Trump and an avid supporter of Biden — based on his tweets in recent months.
Congressmen @dgvaladao and @RepTomRice, thank you for your votes on impeachment, no doubt difficult for you, but important for the future of democracy. As I understand it, this was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history.
— Ryan Chew (@ElectionsRyan) January 13, 2021
In fact, just a couple hours after Chew’s elated email to Woodall-Vogg, the activist excitedly tweeted to Nate Silver, founder of political website FiveThirtyEight, and Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall that Biden was “pulling out Michigan!” Michigan, like Wisconsin, was a key battleground state and, like Wisconsin, was the site of myriad voting irregularities and election integrity questions.
Michigan’s largest and Democrat-heavy cities also received a lot of grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). The Chicago-based, liberal voting activist organization received $350 million in Zuckerberg donations ostensibly to fund “safe and secure” elections amid the pandemic. But all of those “Zuckerbucks” and the groups involved have raised red flags about the entrenched involvement of left-wing activists committed to taking down conservative Trump.
Chew’s Elections Group was one of many election tech specialists in CTCL’s network. Wisconsin’s largest cities, “the WI-5”, are facing election complaints alleging they allowed CTCL and its partners to take over administration of the November election. Complainants are worried elections officials in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine delivered “just the margin needed” to swing the election.
State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who chairs the Assembly Campaign and Elections Committee investigating last year’s elections, said the emails between Chew and the Milwaukee elections director “leave little to believe that Claire Woodall-Vogg is non-partisan.”
Brandtjen on Monday said further action is warranted to examine the broader issues raised.
“IP addresses, chain of custody on ballots and audit trail logs must be thoroughly inspected by cyber-audit technicians in order to provide confidence for voters in our elections, both completed and upcoming,” the lawmaker said in a press release. “While Wisconsin is in the process of an election audit, I will be working to ensure that it is augmented with the expertise and resources to ensure a comprehensive, forensic examination. It is critical that the legislature realize the full extent of our current oversight shortcomings on elections.”
Interestingly, Chew’s email to Woodall-Vogg included a message stamp, a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.” And this, “Winners always believe they won fairly. The aim of an election official is that losers recognize they lost fairly.”