‘I can’t really commit to supporting any theories’: Rock County GOP Chairman defends clerk following viral misinformation spread

JANESVILLE, Wis. – The Rock County GOP Chairman is coming to the defense of the County Clerk following a viral misinformation surge that had so many people calling the clerk’s office, they had to ask the Sheriff’s office for extra protection.

Shortly after the election, a mistake from the Associated Press reporter swapped the results for Joe Biden and Donald Trump momentarily. The mistake was corrected in minutes, but a screenshot of the error was posted online and presented as fraud. Shortly after, Eric Trump tweeted an article with the claim that has since been shared more than 27 thousand times.

“I got a text on Tuesday morning before I left for work saying ‘have you seen this’,” said Lisa Tollefson, the Rock County Clerk. “I looked at it, and it was like, ‘Rock County has a glitch in their reporting results’. We had just had the board canvassed the day before, so I knew the results were right.”

Tollefson says following the claim’s spread online, her office was inundated with calls from around the country demanding Trump be regiven the lead he never had to begin with.

“I could hear them yelling at my staff members through the phone when I’m in a different room,” Tollefson said.  “Why are your results wrong on your website?”

The clerk says eventually, the tones of the calls started to concern her.

“The anger you could hear in their voices, the persistence of not listening or any acceptance that what we had was right on our website,” she said. “There’s some people who will just never accept the results as they are. They’re afraid to look beyond that and accept it.”

Tollefson says that’s why she reached out to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office to ask for extra protection.

“I was actually more concerned about my staff and my family,” Tollefson said. “They didn’t sign up for this. I’m elected. I expect to have people throw things at me. That happens. But they didn’t sign up for this.”

Rock County GOP Chairman Jay Mielke says while many on the right have claimed voter fraud was responsible for Biden’s win in Wisconsin, the results in Rock County were not a surprise to him.

“I think they match historically where we would expect those precincts to perform,” he said. “The proportion of votes is obviously the same, although there is more votes.”

Mielke says he’s not surprised to see the passion Republicans have shown since Biden was projected the victor.

“There’s a lot of sensitivity to how things are being done, there’s a lot of concern that everything is being conducted in the most transparent manner possible,” he said.

However, he says the calls to the clerks office cross a line. He says Tollefson, who the County GOP had endorsed in the past, is just doing her job.

“Our county clerk has been very transparent in past elections,” he said. “She’s conducted the elections very fairly…I would ask everybody just to please respect that office and the volunteers and the people that work there. Respect them as much as possible. They’re doing some very difficult work.”

Tollefson says she’s hopeful the calls will soon stop entirely.

“Our results are correct,” she said.