“How election conspiracy theories turned local politics ‘toxic’ in one Wisconsin city”


For the second time since Election Day 2020, uniformed police officers will be on duty when ballot counting begins in Green Bay’s local elections.

It’s the result of tension building for over a year in the city, which has become ground zero for election conspiracy theories in a battleground state still consumed by the last presidential race. Furor that started over the use of private funds to help a cash-strapped local government run the 2020 election soon morphed into something darker than normal political disagreement, including a report of a “suspicious person” who improperly accessed the clerk’s office on Election Day 2020, according to city government emails obtained by POLITICO.

Now, Green Bay’s nonpartisan city council races — traditionally quiet affairs that focus on taxes and roads — feature ads from a GOP super PAC questioning whether the city’s elections are legitimate and a Democratic super PAC urging voters to “keep Wisconsin elections fair, secure and accessible.” Threats to local officials increased, and some poll workers have dropped out of the election, citing safety concerns. Officials installed cameras on every floor of city hall and formulated evacuation plans, after the November 2020 incident in the clerk’s office and the gathering of protesters outside city hall on Jan. 6., 2021. A mayoral recall effort is underway.

“I have been through three election cycles, and I have never experienced anything like the divisiveness that I am experiencing,” Alderwoman Barbara Dorff wrote in an email. “The acrimony is and has been constant since the [2020] election.”

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