More On: Wisconsin
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According to a recent assessment, Wisconsin's presidential election was not conducted in line with state law. Hundreds of thousands of ballots should not have been counted in the first place.
Explosive revelations in the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau’s report on the 2020 presidential election confirm what many in the key swing state have long suspected: Those tasked with administering the election willfully ignored and openly violated state law.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), the state's governing body in charge of elections, is made up of six commissioners, three from each major party, and a staff that reports to them. Importantly, if the commissioners cannot agree on an issue, no formal action is taken, and local governments are allowed to interpret WEC's staff recommendations.
As a result, during the 2020 election season, the vast majority of WEC decisions were made by unelected, unappointed, and clearly left-leaning bureaucrats. They, as well as the commissioners who monitor them, failed miserably in their duties to oversee an election conducted by municipal and county clerks and poll workers who were not properly educated and did not get correct, legal counsel.
For instance, Wisconsin Statute 6.87(9) provides that “if a municipal clerk receives an absentee ballot with an improperly completed certificate or with no certificate, the clerk may return the ballot to the elector, inside the sealed envelope when an envelope is received, together with a new envelope if necessary, whenever time permits the elector to correct the defect and return the ballot.”
In direct violation of this law, WEC issued guidance to clerks in 2016 that allowed clerks to “cure” such incorrect information on ballot certificates themselves. The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) did not investigate the number of certificates that clerks cured, but still found a significant number of incomplete ballots that, according to state law, should not have been counted.
Incomplete Ballots Shouldn’t Have Been Counted
Auditors reviewed 14,710 absentee ballots cast in 29 municipalities across the state, including nine of the 10 cities in which the highest numbers of absentee ballots were cast. Stunningly, the City of Madison refused to allow the LAB to physically handle its ballots. Madison, Wisconsin’s capital and the most heavily Democratic city in the state, was the primary reason Joe Biden won Dane County over Donald Trump, as it voted for Biden by a whopping 75.7 to 22.9 percent.
The review of ballot certificates revealed that 1,022 of the ballots reviewed (representing 6.9 percent) “had partial witness addresses because they did not have one or more components of a witness address, such as a street name, municipality, state, and zip code.” Fifteen of them (0.1 percent) “did not have a witness address in its entirety,” while eight (less than 0.1 percent) “did not have a witness signature,” and three (less than 0.1 percent) “did not have a voter’s signature.”
While this does not necessarily sound like a major problem with incorrectly filled-out ballot certificates, when those numbers are applied to the 1,963,954 total mail-in votes cast in Wisconsin, it reveals a significant problem.
Using the LAB’s numbers, it may be reasonably estimated that across the state 135,512 absentee ballot certificates only had a partial witness address, 2,002 did not have a witness address at all, 1,068 did not have a witness signature, and 401 did not have a voter signature. Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by just 20,682 votes.
The Associated Press’ VoteCast survey estimates that 58 percent of Biden voters and 40 percent of Trump voters cast absentee ballots, either by mail or early in-person. Assuming that this trend held in Wisconsin, and that none of these absentee ballots were disqualified by election officials, a rough estimate indicates many more Biden votes than Trump votes should legally not have been counted.
Even with Wisconsin's 0.2 percent absentee ballot rejection rate in 2020, all of this is easily enough to push Biden's advantage within a few hundred votes (we can only be approximate as we know the national but not Wisconsin portion of voting that was absentee). Depending on how many voters voted absentee for each candidate, the number of legally inadmissible ballots counted, and the ballot rejection rate, the margin can swing close.
According to Wisconsin Statute 6.84(2), ballots that do not have complete voter and witness names, addresses, and signatures on their certificates “may not be counted” and “may not be included in the certified result of any election.”
Elections Commission Not Interested in FraudIt is definitely a significant issue if tens of thousands of votes that should not have been tallied were counted. The LAB was unable to identify the entire scope of the problem because the City of Madison, which had one of the greatest numbers of absentee ballots returned in the state, declined to allow auditors to examine its ballots.
When ballots are tallied without the legally needed voter and witness information, the risk of fraud is evident, but LAB's audit shows that WEC is not particularly concerned in weeding out or even searching for fraud.The multistate Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) system is intended to combat vote fraud by allowing state election officials, such as WEC, to determine if someone on their voter lists has relocated to, registered to vote in, or died in another state. WEC never checked for any of this in the run-up to the 2020 election.
WEC's single ERIC report, which was published in May 2020, was for "qualified residents who are not registered to vote." The inference is that WEC wanted as many people as possible to vote, regardless of whether they were registered voters or even alive.
Non-Matching Names Never Investigated
This is apparent in WEC’s refusal to properly administer new voter registration. Of the 957,977 people who registered to vote for the first time in 2020, 45,665 did not match Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) driver’s license records.
Sixty-three percent of these mismatches were due to a different name on the voter registration than on the driver’s license. While WEC’s staff indicated a non-match could have occurred if, for example, an individual registered to vote as “Robert” but was listed as “Bob” on a driver’s license, it is unclear why exactly the mismatches occurred because the state transportation department does not provide WEC any personally identifiable information.
“As a result, clerks are uncertain whether a non-match occurred because of only a slight difference in a given individual’s name, which may indicate little cause for concern, or a significant difference, which may indicate that an individual is attempting to register to vote by using another individual’s information,” LAB concluded, noting that “WEC’s staff indicated that no attempts were made to match the personally identifiable information provided by 13,800 individuals.”
This means that 45,665 people voted after providing information on their new voter registration that did not match DOT records, and WEC — the agency responsible for stopping the very sort of fraud such mismatches may be strong evidence of — never bothered to even try to match information for 13,800 of them.
That is unconscionable and seems to indicate an agency that is actively avoiding its duty to find fraud. How else could one explain the LAB’s finding that WEC simply ignored state law and did not obtain electronic signatures from DOT records to match with the signatures on voter registrations or ballots?
“Statutes require individuals who register online to vote to authorize WEC to obtain from DOT electronic copies of the signatures they provided when they obtained driver’s licenses or state identification cards,” LAB reported. “Statutes require WEC to obtain these signatures. However, we found that WEC’s most-recent agreement with DOT explicitly did not include the provision of these signatures.”
Without an ability to match signatures, how could WEC possibly check if the person whose driver’s license is on file with the DOT is the same one who has just registered to vote? Perhaps a better question might be “what is WEC afraid of finding if it did match signatures?”
Many Other Possible Voting Violations
In its audit, LAB proved to be far better at finding fraud than WEC — even though it, too, was not looking for it.
“We found that the names and dates of birth of the individuals associated with 24 of the 70 voter registration records that we identified by using our criteria matched similar information in 24 other records,” the audit discovered. Data indicate 4 of the 24 individuals may have voted twice by absentee ballot, the audit noted.
In addition to this potential evidence of double voting, LAB also found eight felons who voted and that “11 individuals who died before November 3, 2020, likely voted in the General Election.”
Such potential fraud was made possible by an out-of-control rogue agency that repeatedly ignored Wisconsin statutes. As the MacIver Institute summarized:
WEC violated state law by not issuing rules on how to train special voting deputies or election inspections.
WEC told clerks they could go home on Election night and return the next day to finish counting, even though that is illegal.
WEC told clerks they could relocate polling places within 30 days of the election, even though that is illegal.
WEC failed to include current state law in its administrative rules on how to train municipal election workers. The rules have not been updated since 2016.
WEC violated state law by not reporting the error rates for electronic voting equipment used in the Nov. 2020 election.
WEC also turned a blind eye to the rampant abuse of indefinite confinement by voters who used a false declaration to avoid showing a photo ID to vote. In 2020, a whopping 169,901 people declared themselves indefinitely confined for the first time (up from 50,000 total indefinitely confined voters the year before); 48,554 of those newly indefinitely confined voters did not place a valid ID on file with their local clerk and thus were able to get around the state’s Voter ID law.
While this would obviously raise the possibility of massive fraud, WEC never bothered to look into whether any of these 48,554 voters were who they said they were.
Why not? It is WEC’s job to investigate these sorts of issues and ensure that Wisconsin’s elections are both clean and fairly run. But through its repeated refusal to follow state law this agency has ensured only that it can never again be trusted.
The Wisconsin Senate has announced an investigation into LAB’s findings as well as why the City of Madison refused to allow its ballots to be examined. It cannot come soon enough. Even though the LAB never looked into such obvious and odious schemes as Madison’s “Democracy in the Park” ballot harvesting operation and the takeover of Green Bay’s election operations by Facebook-funded partisans, the audit revealed enough evidence of widespread lawlessness to warrant a wholesale restructuring of how elections are run in this state.