Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch suggested Wednesday that a rule requiring poll workers in Madison to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is an attempt to block Republicans from witnessing potential election fraud rather than a way to protect the health of voters.
Kleefisch, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in next year’s election, made the claim on Twitter a month after telling a crowd Republicans need to recruit more poll workers and “hire mercenaries” to help them win races.
Her tweet acknowledged Republicans are less likely to get vaccinated than others and implied Madison officials were trying to hide how they run elections.
Observers from both parties have long had an opportunity across the state to watch voting processes. Last year, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stood a few feet from poll workers as they conducted a recount of the presidential election.
“Interesting how after we’ve been making a big push to get more conservatives working polls, Madison is now requiring all poll workers to be vaccinated,” Kleefisch tweeted. “Do you think they are trying to keep you from seeing what goes on behind the scenes?”
Kleefisch did not agree to an interview Wednesday through a spokesman.
Rep. Lisa Subeck, a Madison Democrat who sits on the Assembly Elections Committee, said she was pleased to see her city is adopting a policy that will create a safer environment for voters. She said Kleefisch’s suggestion of fraud was baseless and a sign she embraces conspiracy theories.
“The fact that she is choosing this as her battle I think shows she is every bit as out of touch now as she was when she was lieutenant governor,” Subeck said. “This sounds like someone who is trying to rile up the extremes of her party in a primary than somebody who wants to govern for all the people of the state.”
Madison officials sent poll workers a memo Monday telling them they must be vaccinated to perform their duties for future elections. City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said the policy was set by the city’s human resources department.