Please Make It Stop

It’s getting pretty hard to write about Michael Gableman. How many times can a guy use words like idiot, fool, incompetent and bungler, in a post? How many times can a reader stand to see “investigation” in quotes? How many references can one make to clowns and circuses before he gets a cease and desist letter from Circus World on the grounds that it’s defamation to be compared with Gableman? (In fact, it is. And I offer my apologies to every good clown out there. You don’t deserve this.)

Yesterday, the idiotic, foolish, incompetent bungling Gableman offered his 136-page “interim” report on his “investigation.” Oh, for cryin’ out loud. What a heaping pile of manure it is.

The headline is that Gableman suggested that the Republican Legislature could decertify our state’s 10 electors, a ludicrous claim that has been shot down repeatedly by every responsible lawyer, scholar and politician in the state.

Michael Gableman

Then he recommended that elections be taken out of the hands of nonpartisan officials and delivered to partisan hacks. Here’s what outgoing Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke had to say about that: “In a world where partisan divides are deep & seemingly anything can be justified as long as it results in retaining power, handing authority to partisan politicians to determine if election fraud exists would be the end of our republic as we know it,”

Steineke has also said that calls from unhinged (see, “unhinged”, now there’s another word I can’t stop using) members of his caucus — and now unhelpfully echoed by Gableman — to decertify electors are illegal and unconstitutional. Steineke, by the way, is a Never Trump Republican. It’s a shame he’s not running again, but can you blame him?

Because I hate myself, I watched parts of Gableman’s rambling presentation yesterday, and one stupid thing he said that didn’t get covered (probably because there’s only so much room to write about stupid things that this guy says) was that he didn’t know how much money was in his budget, but whatever it was it isn’t enough.

Really? The amount of taxpayer money that Speaker Robin Vos is incinerating (there I go again — you know how many times I’ve used “incinerating” to describe this?) has been widely reported as exactly $676,000. It’s been in all the papers. And yet Gableman didn’t know it. When a helper slipped him a note, he read it as if he had just seen the amount for the first time. Anyway, it won’t be enough, he said.

Gableman spent a lot of time on a handful of cases where it appears that an elderly nursing home patient with limited cognitive skills cast a ballot. It was, to say the least, unseemly (there! a new word! unseemly!). It meant nothing. A handful of votes would not change the outcome of the election, which Joe Biden won by 21,000 votes. And, of course, we have no idea who these folks voted for. One would suspect that anyone with limited cognitive skills would be likely to vote for Trump. And it was unseemly because Gableman paraded these poor folks and their families in videos to try to raise questions about an election that was free, fair and accurate.

Speaking of nursing homes, Gableman’s report indicates that his “investigators” reviewed records at 24 Dane County homes. That’s interesting because there are only 18 nursing homes in Dane County. That’s part of a pattern of incompetence. (I know. Incompetence. I just can’t get away from that word). During his “investigation” Gableman has demanded Green Bay records from Milwaukee officials, demanded that officials secure voting machines in places that don’t use them and subpoenaed public officials who have nothing to do with running elections, among a long list of other inanities. He admitted early on that he knew nothing about how elections are run. He’s demonstrated that he’s a slow learner.

But in that large pile of manure that is the whole stinking Gableman mess, there are two recommendations that I actually agree with. I agree that we should move back to voting on election day, but not because early voting is inherently fraudulent. My problem with early voting is that it assumes that people have made up their minds long before election day, based just on party affiliation. It discounts the idea that a candidate might persuade you to change your mind or that an event might change your thinking. Early voting is, in my mind, a symptom of our polarized political environment, and that’s why I don’t like it.

I also agree that we should ban the use of private funds to run elections. An outfit funded by Mark Zuckerberg helped fund outreach to voters run by election officials across the state. No community that applied was turned down and, in fact, the funds were used in parts of the state that voted heavily for Trump. But the lion’s share of the money ended up in cities that are deep blue. It’s been litigated and found to be legal, but it’s a bad look. If you’re a liberal, imagine how you’d feel about it if the money came from Charles Koch. If Zuckerberg or Koch want to fund voter pushes they can do that through the political parties or through nonprofits set up for that purpose. Mixing private money with public dollars raises unnecessary questions about election integrity. Best to avoid it.

But aside from those two things, Gableman’s report is riddled with errors, addresses issues that have long been settled and makes claims, like the decertification of electors, that are flat out false. And, God help us, he’s not done. He’ll continue to embarrass Vos and make his Republican supporters look further removed from reality, which is a plus. But, unfortunately, he’ll also continue to undermine public faith in a sound election system.

The idiotic, foolish, bungling, incompetent, unhinged Gableman will continue incinerating our money in his unseemly “investigation.”


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Please Make It Stop

  1. The $676,000 figure is bogus. The fact is, nobody really knows what this entire boondoggle will end up costing taxpayers. Gableman doesn’t follow the law regarding public records. There are numerous lawsuits. The time local elections officials had to deal with this. The time Wisconsin Election Commission officials had to deal with this. We’ll never know how much this all cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Early voting is convenient. Not all of us have flexible schedules and ample vacation hours to balance work, child pick up, food prep, and all of life’s other duties with an hours-long wait on election day. Affluent readers might be surprised to hear that laborers can’t just take off a couple hours early because it’s Election Day.

    I’m fine with reasonable limits on early voting, but the concrete negative impact of doing away with it dwarfs the abstract positive impact you propose. With how long our campaign season is it is completely reasonable for someone to have made up their mind a week prior to Election Day. And those that are still open to persuasion are free to wait until Election Day to make up their minds.

    What’s so wrong with making voting reasonably easy to do? Too many people promote democracy in words while they fear it in deeds. We can have easy access and still ensure it’s 1 person = 1 vote.

    I’m totally fine with getting private money out of politics, but the issue is far deeper than the Zuckerberg grants. If all the other private money is ok it’s hard to argue that his expenditure is not. Yes indeed, let’s talk more about private money in our elections 🙂


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