MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Friday selected a Republican attorney to be its new chairman, passing over another GOP member who tried to cast an Electoral College vote for Donald Trump even though Trump lost to President Joe Biden.
The commission voted 5-1 to make Don Millis the new chairman. He will replace Democrat Ann Jacobs. The commission is evenly divided between three Republicans and three Democrats and either Millis or Republican Bob Spindell had to become the next chairman by law.
The commission chair plays a crucial role in Wisconsin elections. The chair approves the vote canvass following elections and certifies results. The chair also sets the commission’s agenda and influences how questions are framed, a key power on a panel divided between both parties.
Spindell couldn't muster the Democratic votes to win the chair. He has taken many positions that have angered Democrats, most prominently serving as one of the 10 Republicans who tried to cast Electoral College votes for Trump in Wisconsin even though Biden won the state. Trump has maintained that Biden somehow stole the state from him in 2020 even though court rulings and audits show there was no widespread fraud.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appointed Millis to the commission on Wednesday after Dean Knudson abruptly resigned in May. Knudson said his fellow Republicans had criticized him for saying that Biden won Wisconsin.
Millis previously served on the elections commission and on one of its predecessor panels. He also served on former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson's tax appeals commission from 1995 to 2004.
Millis told the commission before the vote that he's a “cheesehead” and loves Wisconsin. He said his goal is to increase confidence in Wisconsin election results. He said state election laws need to be changed. Earlier in the day when the commission was debating challenges to multiple candidates' nomination papers, he said the window for filing responses should be longer but didn't offer any other ideas during his speech.
“I think I have the skills and the temperament to do what's necessary to make sure changes in election law and administration are rational and will put the people of the state of Wisconsin first,” Millis said.
Spindell said in his pre-vote speech that the commission should fight hard for the people of the state as well as for the best solutions for each commissioner's party.