Fact check: Claim that Meagan Wolfe refused to ‘clean up’ voter rolls is Pants on Fire

WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe speaks at a Keep Our Republic voting education event in La Crosse on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023.

A new TV ad attacking Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for not impeaching Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s top elections administrator, misleadingly accuses Wolfe of mismanaging state voter rolls.

“She refuses to clean up our voter rolls,” a voiceover narrates in the ad. A full-page newspaper ad that ran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel makes a similar claim.

However, alleged voter roll issues cited in the impeachment case the ad supports ignore state law governing Wisconsin’s voter lists – and falsely place the blame at Wolfe’s feet.

Impeachment articles riddled with falsehoods

First, in an earlier review, we found all 15 impeachment articles against Wolfe contain misleading or false claims about how elections administration works in Wisconsin.That hasn’t stopped the Wisconsin Election Committee, Inc. from running ads on Milwaukee-area TV and radio stations threatening to recall Vos or launch a primary challenge if he doesn't move forward with impeachment against Wolfe.

More: Fact Check: Claim that Meagan Wolfe allowed absentee drop boxes, ballot harvesting is false

More: Fact check: Claim that Meagan Wolfe permitted ‘Zuckerbucks’ in 2020 is Pants on Fire

Vos advanced the impeachment articles to an Assembly committee shortly after the ad launched.

More: PolitiFact: Impeachment articles against Meagan Wolfe riddled with false and misleading claims

The group is led by Adam Steen, who unsuccessfully launched a primary challenge against Vos in 2022, and Harry Wait, a Racine County man who was charged last year for fraudulently obtaining absentee ballots.

The group’s TV ad makes multiple false claims about Wolfe, one of which accuses her of mismanaging Wisconsin’s voter rolls.

The ad also makes false claims about Wolfe’s role in third-party financial assistance for 2020 election operations and falsely blames her for absentee voting decisions made by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

When asked to provide evidence for the ad’s claims, Wait provided documents from summarizing state lawsuits that HOT Government, a group focused on false election claims, cited as proof Wolfe acted illegally. The documents did not cite cases alleging Wolfe mismanaged voter rolls.He also provided an election report from former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman that found no evidence of election fraud.

Impeachment articles inflate number of registered Wisconsin voters

The impeachment articles against Wolfe misleadingly state Wisconsin has more than 7 million voters on its rolls. For reference, Wisconsin's state population was 5.9 million in the 2020 census.

The problem is that lawmakers who drafted the impeachment articles added more than 3.5 million inactive voters — people who are dead, moved to another state or are in any other way deemed ineligible to vote — to the number of active, registered voters to reach an inaccurate figure.

Inactive voters are not registered voters. Wisconsin law requires WEC to maintain an active and inactive voter list, meaning Wolfe cannot purge the inactive voter list.

State law also bars inactive voters from voting in Wisconsin elections unless they reregister and provide proof of in-state residence.

Furthermore, neither the WEC nor Wolfe is responsible for removing voters who may have moved from the rolls. State law assigns that responsibility to local elections officials, the state Supreme Court ruled in 2021, and anyone who may have moved must affirm their address before receiving a ballot.

The WEC’s most recent voter registration data from Nov. 1 found Wisconsin had approximately 3.5 million active registered voters.

Our ruling

A TV ad from the Wisconsin Election Committee claims Wolfe “refuses to clean up our voter rolls.”

However, the ad relied on impeachment articles that make false claims about the number of registered voters in Wisconsin, a process outlined in state law that Wolfe cannot change. Indeed, the responsibility for purging the vioter rolls belongs to local election officials, not to the state commission or Wolfe.

That makes the claim not only false, but ridiculous.

We rate it Pants on Fire.

Sources

Politifact, Impeachment articles against Meagan Wolfe riddled with false and misleading claims, Oct. 4, 2023

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Group spending six figures on ads threatening to unseat Vos unless elections chief Wolfe is impeached, Nov. 2, 2023

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Vos moves impeachment articles against elections chief Wolfe to committee in wake of ad pressure campaign, Nov. 2, 2023

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Assembly Republicans put forward impeachment articles for Wisconsin elections chief Meagan Wolfe, Sept. 21, 2023

U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin 2020 Census

Wisconsin State Statutes, 6.50

Wisconsin State Statutes, 6.50(10)Wisconsin Supreme Court, Zignego et al v. Wisconsin Election Commission et al, Apr. 9, Wisconsin Elections Commission, November 1, 2023 Voter Registration Statistics, Nov. 2, 2023

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Robin Vos fires Michael Gableman, ending a 2020 election review that's cost taxpayers more than $1 million and produced no evidence of fraud, Aug. 12, 2022

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Claim that Meagan Wolfe refused to ‘clean up’ voter rolls is Pants on Fire

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