Wisconsin shocked the Hillary Clinton campaign when it went for Donald Trump in 2016, after having voted for Barack Obama in two elections. Democrats were intent that it not go red again. To ensure liberals were voting in large numbers, the supposedly nonpartisan Center for Technology and Civic Life spent $47 per voter in Green Bay, when normally the legislature spent $7 per voter there and $4 in rural areas of the state. Here, from her new book, “Rigged,” Mollie Hemingway breaks down how Mark Zuckerberg’s money was put to use for revenge in Wisconsin — which Biden would take by just 20,000 votes.
Wisconsin is a prime example of how a supposed nonpartisan “get out the vote group” really was a Democratic Party-aligned effort to flip a state back their way.
The Center for Technology and Civic Life, funded by Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and founded by three Democratic operatives, said their mission was to ensure voting could be “done in accordance with prevailing public health requirements” to “reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus.”
But really they were infiltrating local election operations and pushing for as many Democrats as possible to vote by mail.
Zuckerberg had given CTCL and related entities $419 million to spend around the country. In Wisconsin, CTCL used $6.3 million of that money in the cities of Racine, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, and Kenosha, which outsourced much of their election operations to the private group.
For instance, even though state law says that the city clerk is in charge of the election, Democratic Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich gave CTCL leadership roles in collecting absentee ballots, fixing ballots that would otherwise be voided for failure to follow the law, and even supervising the counting of ballots.
In essence, they ran a Democratic get-out-the-vote operation through the election offices themselves.
It was a genius plan. And because no one ever imagined that a coordinated operation could pull off the privatization of the election system, no laws were built to combat it.
“As far as I’m concerned I am taking all of my cues from CTCL and work with those you recommend,” Celestine Jeffreys, the chief of staff to mayor Genrich, wrote in an e-mail.
And CTCL had plenty of recommendations.
The left-wing group CTCL said it had a “network of current and former election administrations and election experts available” to scale up “your vote by mail processes” and “ensure forms, envelopes, and other materials are understood and completed correctly by voters.”
CTCL’s partners offered services that would have a direct effect on election results.
- Power the Polls, a liberal group recruiting poll workers, promised to help with ballot curing — that is, fixing ballots that might otherwise be discarded.
- The liberal Mikva Challenge worked to recruit high-school-age poll workers.
- And the left-wing Brennan Center could help with “election integrity,” including “postelection audits” and “cybersecurity.”
- The Center for Civic Design, an election-administration policy organization that frequently partners with left-of-center organizations such as liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, designed absentee ballots and voting instructions, often working directly with an election commission to develop a new envelope design and create an advertising and targeting campaign.
- The Elections Group, another group linked to the Democracy Fund, provided technical assistance in handling drop boxes and conducted voter outreach. The communications director for the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, a left-of-center advocacy organization created to promote sweeping changes to the elections process, ran a conference call to help Green Bay develop Spanish-language radio ads and geofencing to target voters in a predefined area.
- Digital Response, a nonprofit launched in 2020, offered a stunning array of services, including: “If your state does not provide online [vote-by-mail] applications, we can help you set one up — improving the application process for both you and your voters.
“We can help you set up tools to quickly notify voters with rejected ballots — and then guide them through the ballot cure process.
“We’ll help you monitor wait times at the polls — helping you respond where needed and improving the voting experience.
“We’ll help you set up the tools you need to share information with your voters across social, email, text, and web.”
Another partner, The National Vote at Home Institute, was presented as a “technical assistance partner” that could “support outreach around absentee voting,” provide and oversee voting machines, consult on methods to cure absentee ballots and even take the duty of curing absentee ballots off of Green Bay’s hands.
A few weeks after the cities received their grant, CTCL e-mailed Claire Woodall-Vogg, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, to offer “an experienced elections staffer that could potentially embed with your staff in Milwaukee in a matter of days.”
The staffer leading Wisconsin’s portion of the National Vote at Home Institute was an out-of-state Democratic activist named Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein. As soon as he met with Woodall-Vogg, he asked for contacts at the Wisconsin Elections Commission and in the other cities.
Spitzer-Rubenstein would eventually take over much of Green Bay’s election planning from the official charged with running the election, Green Bay city clerk Kris Teske.
Teske was not happy at being replaced by Spitzer-Rubenstein and his team. A few weeks before the election, she would take Family and Medical Leave Act leave, quitting shortly thereafter.
E-mails from Spitzer-Rubenstein show he was managing much of the election process. To one government official he wrote, “By Monday, I’ll have our edits on the absentee voting instructions. We’re pushing Quickbase to get their system up and running and I’ll keep you updated. I’ll revise the planning tool to accurately reflect the process. I’ll create a flowchart for the vote-by-mail processing that we will be able to share with both inspectors and also observers.”
Once early voting started, Woodall-Vogg would provide him with a daily update on the numbers of absentee ballots returned and still outstanding in each ward, prized information for a political operative.
“Here’s what I’ll need,” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote to her in late October, “1) Number of ballot preparation teams, 2) Number of returned ballots per ward, 3) Number of outstanding ballots per ward.”
Amazingly, he even asked for direct access to the Milwaukee Election Commission’s voter database.
“We’re hoping there’s an easier way to get the data out of WisVote than you having to manually export it every day or week. To that end, we have two questions: 1. Would you or someone else on your team be able to do a screen-share so we can see the process for an export? 2. Do you know if WisVote has an API or anything similar so that it can connect with other software apps? That would be the holy grail (but I’m not expecting it to be that easy).”
Even for Woodall-Vogg, who had been providing daily reports to the Democratic activist working for the nonprofit, that was too much.
“While I completely understand and appreciate the assistance that is trying to be provided,” she wrote, “I am definitely not comfortable having a non-staff member involved in the function of our voter database, much less recording it.”
If a ballot was going to be voided for not following instructions, the Democratic groups were happy to step in to “cure” the ballot.
Spitzer-Rubenstein explained to the Green Bay chief of staff that the National Vote at Home Institute had done the same for other cities in Wisconsin.
“We have a process map that we’ve worked out with Milwaukee for their process,” Spitzer-Rubenstein wrote in an e-mail. “We can also adapt the letter we’re sending out with rejected absentee ballots along with a call script alerting voters. (We can also get people to make the calls, too, so you don’t need to worry about it.)”
Ah, yes, don’t worry about it — they’ll handle it.
When these e-mails were made public in 2021, they stunned Wisconsin observers.
“What exactly was the National Vote at Home Institute doing with its daily reports? Was it making sure that people were actually voting from home by going door-to-door to collect ballots from voters who had not yet turned theirs in? Was this data sharing a condition of the CTCL grant? And who was really running Milwaukee’s election?” asked Dan O’Donnell, whose election analysis appeared at Wisconsin’s MacIver Institute, a conservative think tank.
“The rigging of the election happened in front of our face, you know?” O’Donnell said.
Democrats are willing to take extreme measures to keep the privatized funding that enabled their political activists to embed in the election system. After the Wisconsin legislature passed a bill banning private funding of election operations by a 60–36 margin in the state assembly and by an 18–14 margin in the state senate, Democratic Governor Tony Evers vetoed the ban.
Without tech oligarchs’ buying the administration of the state’s elections, Democrats stand to lose.
Excerpted with permission from Mollie Hemingway’s “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections” (Regnery Publishing).