Wisconsin GOP bans media from attending statewide ‘election integrity’ tour kickoff in Onalaska

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin GOP began its statewide election integrity tour Wednesday. The tour has nine stops, the first of which was in Onalaska.

Republican officials say the tour is about recruiting volunteers and poll workers. News 8 Now attempted to gain access to the event, but we were denied. Critics say they fear this meeting was all about how the 2020 election was stolen.

Nearly two years after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, claims of a stolen election and voter fraud continue.

“This is a sign of really bad times politically,” said Anthony Chergosky, assistant political science professor at UW-La Crosse, Anthony Chergosky.

The federal Justice Department has debunked the claims.

“These claims have not withstood legal scrutiny and have not withstood the scrutiny of legal investigations,” Chergosky said.

“They want their base to see that they’re doing something about this issue, even if this isn’t an issue that really resonates or appeals to a wide percentage of their audience,” said William Garcia, chair of the La Crosse County Democratic Party.

“How on earth are you going to say we need election integrity, we need transparency, we need to be sure everything is above board and then say but we’re not even going to let the media hear what we have to say?” Garcia said.

Republican officials say the event was about recruiting voters and volunteers. News 8 Now obtained video from the inside of volunteer signs, but state GOP officials would not allow us to use the video.

“It means we’re in the dark about what’s going on in this particular event. Today is all about trying to please the base of the party, the base that believes the election was stolen,” Chergosky said.

Stops on the election integrity tour include large cities like Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Chergosky believes the stops imply Republicans believe there is election fraud occurring in larger cities.

“The message that a lot of republicans are getting is that you can’t trust urban communities to be honest,” he said.

Garcia says is worried about future elections.

“It means that every election, they’re going to contest. If they don’t win. If they win, a very fair election. If they don’t win, someone cheated, something is wrong,” Garcia said.

Republican officials say they’re focused on having a fair midterm election. Garcia says these events imply Republicans have not accepted the 2020 election results.

“We’re going to make sure 2022 was safe, because 2020 was not,” he said.

Wisconsin election officials found 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast, according to The Associated Press, which reported that 16 of the 27 were in the city of La Crosse. Those cases had registered their address as the UPS Store.

“That was a drop in the bucket compared to how many votes would be necessary to change the outcome of the election,” Chergosky said.

Chergosky and Garcia say people have to accept the outcome no matter their political views.

“America today, people just don’t trust each other,” Chergosky said.

And without transparency, they say democracy is in trouble.

News 8 Now reached out to the state GOP for a statement, but did not receive one.

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