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In Mount Pleasant, Ron Johnson says 'God bless the guy who' illegally requested absentee ballots

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MOUNT PLEASANT — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was in Mount Pleasant on Saturday for the grand opening of his campaign office at 6100 Washington Avenue.

He and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos rallied supporters and encouraged them to start campaigning.

“We’re looking for a strong grassroots effort to win us this election,” Johnson told a crowd of supporters.

“Luckily, the primary is behind us,” added Vos, who narrowly survived a challenge in the primary that concluded Tuesday by fewer than 300 votes. The arguing on our own side is yesterday’s news. Now, we’re going to focus on what we do best, which is taking the conservative message — not just in Racine County — but all across Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Senate Election Ron Johnson

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, left, looks on as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson makes a campaign stop at the Racine County GOP headquarters in the Village of Mount Pleasant Saturday. Vos has made nation headlines this week after he fired former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who Vos had hired last year to investigate 2020 election.

Election integrity

Johnson took questions from the audience and the first out of the gate was on election integrity. The questioner said he was “terrified that people are going to stuff ballot boxes, drop boxes and steal ballots.”

Drop boxes are no longer in use for voting anywhere in Wisconsin.

“I share your concern,” Johnson said, while adding the GOP has put together a team to watch “registrations to make sure they’re valid, the best we can.”

He added, “God bless the guy who had Robin’s name and birthday and requested a ballot to a different address.” Here, Johnson is referencing Harry Wait, the man from the Town of Dover who admitted to illegally requesting absentee ballots online using the names of Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason and had them sent to his home address to prove it was possible. Wait received Mason’s ballot in the mail, but never received a ballot addressed to Vos.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office said that this illustrates a “vulnerability” in Wisconsin’s election system — as it is possible to request someone else’s ballot online with only knowledge of their name and birthdate. Wisconsin Elections Commission officials have responded by saying there is not a vulnerability, and that those who aim to cheat will continue trying to find a way.

Wait attested that he never voted on behalf of anyone else, but solely requested their ballots.

The state Department of Justice has said it is investigating the situation that came into the public eye two weeks ago, although no updates have been provided in the past week. Wait said he expects to be charged with a felony.

Johnson said he felt the Wisconsin Elections Commission did not respond to the situation correctly; in response to Wait’s actions, WEC sent out a mailer to all those who requested ballots be sent to an address that is different from their registered address, a practice that is not uncommon since thousands of voters do not live at their home address year-round.

Johnson added a claim that “Democrats want a system that makes it easy to cheat ... Nobody can say for sure how many votes are fraudulent.” He said the best way to respond to the concern about election integrity was to “overwhelm them with our votes.”

The individual pushed back and said, “You know they’re stuffing ballot boxes, and we don’t have the security to make sure they can’t do that.” There is no evidence of the stuffing of ballot boxes in recent U.S. electoral history.

In response, Johnson went on to lament the lack of confidence the voters can have in the system and said no matter the political party, people should have confidence in the system.

WEC commissioners have argued the best deterrent to illegal voting has been to arrest and criminally charge those who abuse the election system.

Wisconsin Senate Election Ron Johnson

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, left, looks on as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson makes a campaign stop at the Racine County GOP headquarters in the Village of Mount Pleasant Saturday. Vos has made nation headlines this week after he fired former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who Vos had hired last year to investigate 2020 election.

Division

Johnson told those gathered that what he hears most often from people as he has talked to voters is fear “that things are just coming apart.”

“What they talk to me about, with tears in their eyes, sometime with tears streaming down their cheeks, there’s just this overwhelming foreboding that we’re losing this country,” Johnson said. “They don’t like the division. They don’t like the anger.”

Johnson reminded his supporters that President Joe Biden said eight times in his inaugural address that his goal was to unite and heal the nation, but claimed Biden and Democrats were not being successful in that endeavor.

“That’s what our side wants,” he said of unity. “The other side is widening the gap.”

Johnson said the heart of his campaign would be the fight for freedom.

Education and gender

The senator quoted Canadian conservative media personality Jordan Peterson’s argument that conservatives are not very good at defending their values and positions.

Johnson said that was because they did not think a time would come when they would have to defend the “validity of the nuclear family” — that is a family with a mom and dad.

He continued to say conservatives did not think the day would come when they would have to push back against “indoctrinating” children with critical race theory in school or the policy of administering “gender-blocking” drugs to children without parent notification.

In the U.S., no state allows those under the age of 18 to receive what are known as “puberty-blocking drugs,” typically used by transgender individuals who are transitioning, without parental consent. Some states ban the use of those drugs for those under the age of 18 altogether.

Johnson cited these as the “radical leftist crap that’s being shoved down our throat,” along with males competing against females in sports and allegedly being forced to shower together.

Adam Rogan of The Journal Times contributed to this report.

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Reporter

Dee Hölzel has been reporting since 1999 and joined the Journal Times in October 2020. Dee graduated with an MA in History from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, specializing in the intersection of history and journalism.

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In a letter regarding the case, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling wrote “I have complete faith in our community and our court system that when all facts are presented and thoroughly reviewed, the court will conclude the quick and brave actions taken by Deputy Drewitz and K-9 was well within his training and experience and completely an appropriate use of force to stop a very dangerous and resistive suspect."

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