In February, Republican legislators in Wisconsin ordered an audit of the 2020 election by a 6-4 vote. The Legislative Audit Bureau lists an Elections Administration audit as active, with expected completion this Fall. State Auditor Joe Chrisman, who supervises the audit, describes its scope in a February letter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
Trump campaign had financed partial recounts in November 2020 of the largest and most liberal counties of Milwaukee and Dane, which resulted in an increase of 132 votes to Biden’s margin of victory. Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes—the same amount Trump won by in 2016. The results of the Wisconsin election, including down-ballot, were certified by Governor Tony Evers soon after they were received, giving Biden 10 Electoral College votes.
The audit has latitude to review the performance and methodology of each Wisconsin electoral jurisdiction’s voting system and its error rate, including absentee voting and the 62.1% that used electronic voting. The nation saw an increase in mail-in ballots, about double that trended Democrat with fewer rejected in 2020 than in years past. Mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, however, increased from 170k to 964k from 2016 to 2020 and made up almost 75% of the total—compared to a historical rate of only 6%. The Wisconsin state elections website FAQ maintains, “There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this or any other Wisconsin election.” The FAQ goes to great lengths to address election integrity issues from all sides.
One of three Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) commissioners, Republican Bob Spindell, had requested a full statewide audit of all Dominion Voting machines—one of 7 approved manufacturers of voting equipment in Wisconsin elections—but was denied in February. Instead, as is required by state law, the commission examined a small number of machines that included some of Dominion’s ImageCast Evolution (ICE) model to determine if there was a widespread problem or pattern. Some voting discrepancies were found that were attributed to creases in ballots improperly registering as votes. Still, no indication was found that the outcome of any election, including down-ballot, was impacted.
WEC’s handling of compliance review complaints against election officials are also within the audit’s scope. All of these complaints are available to view on the wi.gov website. 21 have been filed since the 2020 elections on November 3, 17 of which are related to the Presidential election, and eight remain open. Of the 9 that are closed, only three involved a review of the merits of the complaint—one which found only a minor violation that was excused because of pandemic conditions, and two dismissed for failure to show probable cause that the Governor and an administrator violated the law in certification of election results.
|Closed – No Violation|
|Seaman, et al. v. Noe, et al. – Town of Omro||Absentee Ballots||Complainant alleges town violated election law re: absentee ballots and election information notices.|
|Hunt v. Findley, et al||Canvassing; Absentee Ballots||Complainant alleges Milwaukee election officials inconsistently transferred absentee ballots to other election jurisdictions.|
|Hunt v. Findley, et al. (2)||Overcounting||Complainant requests injunctive order based on a news article that claims more votes than registered voters.|
|McKim v. C Madison Clerk’s Office||Electronic Voting Machines; Vote Verification||Complainant alleges ExpressVote ballot-marking device prints ballots that cannot be properly verified, rendering vote auditing/recount impossible.|
|Williams et al. v. Milwaukee Elections Commission, et al.||Vote Fraud; Tampering||Complainant alleges tens of thousands of tampered ballots (red-ink cross-outs) by election staff despite election observer’s objections.|
|Barrett v. Kollmansberger||Absentee Ballot; Ballot Handling||Complainant alleges city clerk improperly accepted and posted an absentee ballot from a 103-year-old woman, which was illegally signed and witnessed by non-election-official employees.|
|Knudson v. Evers||Vote Certification; Recount||Complainant alleges Governor Evers’ certification was timed to disallow a recount/appeal of the recount, in violation of the law.|
|Knudson v. Wolfe||Vote Certification; Recount||Complainant alleges Governor’s administrator participated in an invalid certification that was timed to disallow a recount/appeal of the recount, in violation of the law.|
|Denison v. Shaw et al||Voter Intimidation||Complainant alleges election worker disallowed maskless registration “intimidated, harassed, threatened, and treated with disdain.”|
|Bolter v. Milwaukee Elections Commission, et al||Vote Fraud; Tampering||Same as Williams et al. above, refiled by citizen with standing. Complainant alleges tens of thousands of tampered ballots (red-ink cross-outs) by election staff despite election observer’s objections.|
|Pease v. Boyer et al||Online Registration; Physical Address||Complainant alleges 2 online registrations and subsequent votes are questionable due to lack of physical residence of voters.|
|Sewell v. Racine||Ballot Handling; Duplicate Ballots||Complainant alleges poll workers did not properly keep, mark, and separate original and duplicated ballots.|
|Normand v. Kremer||Vote Fraud||Complainants allege City knowingly violated the law by providing second ballots to electors that had already cast ballots.|
|Carlstedt et al. v. Wolfe et al (Green Bay)||Privatization / Corporate Conditions||Complainants allege Green Bay involved private corporations and their employees in the election administration, against state law.|
|Steinke v. Kessen||Ethical Violations||Complainant alleges a candidate on the ballot was allowed to serve as an election official in violation of state law.|
|Steinke v. Knaak||Ethical Violations||Complainant alleges a candidate on the ballot was allowed to serve as an election official and a proper number of poll workers was not maintained, and that an inspector served who had a financial interest in the outcome, all being in violation of state ethics laws.|
|Prujansky et al. v. Wolfe et al. (Racine)||Privatization / Corporate Conditions||Complainants allege the City of Racine involved private corporations and their employees in the election administration, against state law.|
|Thomas et al. v. Wolfe et al. (Kenosha)||Privatization / Corporate Conditions||Complainants allege the City of Kenosha involved private corporations and their employees in the election administration, against state law.|
|Werner et al. v. Wolfe et al. (Milwaukee)||Privatization / Corporate Conditions||Complainants allege the City of Milwaukee involved private corporations and their employees in the election administration, against state law.|
Administrators’ and municipal clerks’ compliance with Wisconsin’s elections laws and its guidance on Election Processes is also auditable, along with actions by the WEC, which is currently comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats. These part-time appointees of the Legislative Leaders or the Governor who serve staggered five-year term limits also provide an annual report of “suspected election fraud, irregularities, or violations.” Still, they have yet to file one that includes the 2020 Presidential election.
Evidence that was or would have been argued in front of Wisconsin Courts by Trump and his supporters in past lawsuits may have another chance to be heard. In April, a lawsuit from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty failed to clear some 71,000 records after Republicans had successfully cleared 150,000 non-respondents from the rolls prior. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that clearing voter rolls of those who did not respond within 30 days to a 2019 mailing was not a state-level matter but a municipal one, in another opinion from Justice Brian Hagedorn. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, the 71k did not ultimately cast votes in the 2020 election. The audit may examine voter rolls maintained by WisVote—the state’s voter registration database for its 3.7 million active registered voters.
WEC again approved the mailing of postcards in April, this time to just under 188,000 registered voters flagged as potential movers by the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is a non-profit with a mission to “(1) assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and (2) increasing access to voter registration for all eligible citizens” that grabs data from motor vehicle and voter registration databases both in Wisconsin and participating states, as well as the National Change of Address database from the U.S. Postal Service. The data is compiled to determine what voters are likely to have moved and were found to be 93% predictive. The postcard mailings satisfy a required part of Wisconsin’s ERIC membership. HR 1 attempts to codify a nationwide mandate to use this ERIC data for interstate cross-checking and cleaning voter rolls. That’s the bill called the ‘For the People Act’ officially, but the Corrupt Politicians Act by Ted Cruz.
Wisconsin election integrity questions played a role in Mike Lindell‘s “Absolute Proof.” Wisconsin’s state elections website FAQ addresses this by saying, “information security professionals at the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and state cybersecurity experts from multiple agencies have reviewed claims in the video and have found them to be false.” It provides numerous examples of what it says are objectively false claims about Wisconsin in the documentary “For example, the video claims that in Adams County, 17,044 votes were taken away from Trump. This is impossible, as Adams County has only 13,595 registered voters. There were 11,818 votes cast for president in the entire county, with 7,362 (62%) going to Trump and 4,329 going to Biden.” and criticizes lack of attribution, lack of methodology, and incomplete data for other claims.
The University of Wisconsin is conducting a survey funded by a grant from the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership of all municipal clerks to get their feedback on the election and gauge their support for reform proposals. The WEC has a regular quarterly meeting scheduled for June 2, a publicly accessible teleconference for which instructions are not yet posted. Public signups to speak at the meeting and general public comments to the Commission are being accepted by email.