As of Nov. 15, only one of 81 Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin assembly and senate recognized that Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election and is President-elect, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Sen. Luther Olsen was the only Republican to acknowledge Biden’s victory, but 44 of 47 Democrats have recognized Biden as President-elect.
All Republican legislators contacted by The Badger Herald declined to comment or did not respond for comment.
According to political expert and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism and Mass Communications Michael Wagner, democracy may suffer irreparable damage in Wisconsin if legislators continue to not recognize Biden as President-elect.
“Frankly, their silence is debilitating to democracy and wrecking our country’s trust in key democratic institutions,” Wagner said.
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President Donald Trump has not yet conceded and claims election fraud in many of his tweets. Twitter flagged several of Trump’s tweets for misinformation.
According to Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Life Sciences Communication and expert on public opinion Dietram Scheufele, the president’s actions should not come as a surprise.
“Donald Trump said very openly that this would happen. So everybody knew the theater was coming and now it is being acted out on stage,” Scheufele said. “For some reason we are still acting like we are surprised by it.”
Scheufele said the Georgia senate election could be a factor in the GOP’s denial of Biden’s win.
According to the New York Times, Republicans won senate seats in Alaska and North Carolina, putting the party in control of 50 seats. Democrats would need to capture both seats in Georgia to ensure a 50-50 tie. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to cast tie-breaking votes to carry out the Democratic agenda.
Republicans are using the premise of a rigged Presidential election in an effort to secure votes, Scheufele said.
“The idea that this may have been rigged against Trump is a really good turnout tool, meaning conservative voters are going to be really upset and they are going to go out and vote just because they think the Presidential election was rigged,” Scheufele said. “Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter, it is going to ensure voters.”
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Additionally, House members are a year away from running for reelection with a similar constituency.
Scheufele said another reason for GOP compliance in Trump’s denial could be because they are focused on their personal careers.
Scheufele said the U.S.’s history of a peaceful transfer of power exhibits national unity. In the past, even if the presidency was contested, there was a peaceful transfer of power, according to The Independent. Nixon conceded to Kennedy in 1960 despite accusations of vote-rigging, and Al Gore accepted the Supreme Court ruling that George Bush won in 2000.
“We look at the U.S. as one of the few countries where the peaceful transfer of power has always worked despite differences,” Scheufele said. “In the end they always did what is best for the country.”
According to the New York Times, Trump refused for weeks to allow Biden and his staff access to government offices, secure communications and classified briefings, which could potentially present a national security threat.
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While the Trump administration continues to make a smooth transition for Biden more difficult from the White House, it is also still calling for a partial recount in two historically Democratic Wisconsin counties, Dane and Milwaukee. This will be the third recount in Wisconsin in the past ten years, after the 2016 Presidential election and the 2011 Supreme Court election.
Trump called for a recount in Georgia and Wisconsin and invited Michigan GOP lawmakers to the White house in efforts to destabilize the election, according to the New York Times. Results from Georgia’s recount reaffirm Biden’s victory in the state.
According to ABC News, at least 30 states made new rules regarding voting during the pandemic. These rules include the removal of strict excuse requirements or allowing COVID-19 concerns to be a valid excuse to vote absentee, allowing ballot drop boxes, prepaid postage on election mail and sending all active registered voters applications to request an absentee ballot to minimize in-person contact during the pandemic.
According to Wagner, public opinion of election integrity may be greatly swayed by Trump’s actions.
“When roughly half of our elected officials refuse to endorse the plainly obvious truth that Joe Biden won our nation’s free and fair election, they are not playing with fire, they are playing with highly enriched uranium without a hazmat suit on,” Wagner said.