Wisconsin election clerks told by investigator to keep data

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A vote tabulator displays absentee ballots to election observers during the presidential vote recount in Dane County at Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 21, 2020. Donald Trump’s campaign is paying for a recount of votes in Dane and Milwaukee counties in an effort to identify ballots to challenge the election.
Credit: Will Cioci Wisconsin Watch

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 says 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 clerk 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 says 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.”

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