Wisconsin Spending Half of its 2020 Election Probe Money to Check Ballots, Voting Machines

Wisconsin has earmarked nearly half of the money for its 2020 presidential election probe to be used to examine ballots and voting machines, a contract released Wednesday shows.

The probe is spending $676,000 in taxpayer money, with $325,000 set aside for a data analysis contractor. The contract shows the investigation will likely focus on examining ballots and voting machines, the Associated Press reported.

The contract, which was entered into by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman was obtained by the Associated Press via the state open records law.

Gableman, who is leading the probe, has said that reviewing the voting machines will be one of his priorities. Conversely, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said in a video posted to Twitter that he does not support focusing on the voting machines.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Wisconsin Election Probe
A contract released Wednesday shows that Wisconsin plans to spend nearly half of its election probe funds on data analysis, inspecting ballots and voting machines. Procedure manuals and other supplies sit in the Wisconsin Center as Milwaukee County begins to recount ballots from the Nov. 3 election at the site on Nov. 20, 2020 in Milwaukee. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The contract also sets aside $25,000 each for the hiring of five investigators. Gableman is to be paid $55,000 over the life of the contract, which runs from August 1 through the end of the year.

There is also $15,000 earmarked for communications, $50,000 for attorney fees, $25,000 for travel and $50,000 for court reporting.

The contract calls for using taxpayer money on the probe, not campaign donations or other funds as was done in a widely discredited election audit in Arizona.

Republicans are moving ahead with the investigation in the battleground state President Joe Biden won by just under 21,000 votes over former President Donald Trump. Trump met with Vos last week and encouraged the probe, which also has the backing of other Republicans in the state, including Johnson, who is up for reelection next year.

Republicans have questioned numerous aspects of the 2020 election, but produced no evidence of widespread fraud. Biden's win over Trump has also withstood recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties and numerous state and federal lawsuits filed by Trump and his supporters. To date, only two people out of 3.3 million votes cast have been charged with election fraud.

Johnson said Sunday that there was "nothing obviously skewed about the results in Wisconsin" while also supporting the investigation. He made his comments to a liberal activist from the web-based program The Undercurrent and a member of Democracy Partners, a group aligned with Democrats. She posted their interaction Tuesday on Twitter. It was taped during a conservative event Sunday.

The Gableman investigation is in addition to one underway by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. That review was also ordered by Republicans. Both are expected to be done by the fall.

Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, on Monday called the $680,000 being spent on the Gableman investigation "outrageous" and a waste of taxpayer money.

Wisconsin Recount
Wisconsin plans to spend about half of its 2020 election probe funds on examining ballots and voting machines. A election worker shows ballots to representatives for Donald Trump during the presidential recount vote for Dane County on November 20, 2020 in Madison, Wisc. Andy Manis/Getty Images