By Bill Osmulski, MacIver Institute
The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau released its report on the 2020 election Friday, after receiving limited cooperation from officials.
- Auditors were able to interview 2 of 6 Wisconsin Election Commission members. An additional commissioner provided written testimony, but the other two declined.
- Also, Auditors were not allowed to physically handle election-related materials from the City of Madison.
- Auditors tried to survey every municipal clerk in the state, but only 48% responded. Out of the 72 County clerks, 82% responded.
Despite these barriers, the auditors made several explosive discoveries.
WEC Ignores National Database That Identifies Potential Problems?
Among the most alarming problems identified in this audit is how WEC uses the ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center) database. ERIC allows states to determine if residents are voting in multiple states, have died in other states, moved within the state, voted multiple times in the same election, or are eligible to vote but not registered.
It turns out WEC had never run a report on whether people were voting in other states or died in other states going back to 2016. The first time it ran the report was in May, after the auditors started poking around. The only ERIC report it ran in 2020 was for eligible voters who weren’t registered.
New Voter Registration Non-matches
There were also problems with how WEC administered the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires voters to provide driver’s license (or social security information) when they register. In 2020, 957,977 Wisconsinites registered to be a new voter. Of the 957,977, 898,421 of the new registrations matched corresponding records used as a integrity check at the Department of Transportation or 93.8 percent. Which means that 45,665 new voters registered with driver’s license information that did not match DMV records or 4.8 percent. Each of those mismatches is a potential indication of voter fraud, but WEC was unconcerned.
“WEC’s staff instruct clerks to correct the voter registration if they can determine that the non-match was the result of a data entry error. Otherwise, clerks are instructed to inform the individuals that they should resolve the mismatched information,” the audit explains.
According to the Audit, of the 45,665 total non-matches, 63.1 percent were from a name non-match, meaning the name submitted by the new voter on the ballot application did not match the name on file at the DOT. Shockingly, the DOT does not provide WEC with the reason of the non-match, so “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.”
According to the Audit, WEC staff did not attempt to match 13,800 new voter records for a variety of reasons.
New Voter Registration Signatures
WEC failed to follow state law which requires them to obtain electronic signatures of new online registrants. According to the Audit, WEC staff apparently decided on their own to ignore state law which requires them to check the signatures of the new voters with the signatures on file at the DOT. The bureaucrats at both agencies attempted to make excuses as to why it could not or it might be difficult to follow state law.
Early Absentee Voting
In the November 2020 election, 1,963,954 absentee ballots were cast or 59.6 percent of all ballots cast. In this analysis, the LAB selected 30 municipalities to do a random review of some of the absentee ballot applications, which is typically the envelope that the potential voter returns his/her absentee ballot in.
Of the 1.96 million absentee ballots cast in the November 2020, the 30 municipalities selected for review had 470,028 votes cast by absentee ballot.
Only 1 municipality, the City of Madison, refused to cooperate and allow the Audit Bureau to physically review the absentee applications.
So these 29 municipalities had 23.93% of all the 1.96 million absentee ballots cast in the November 2020 election.
The Audit Bureau physically reviewed 14,710 absentee ballot applications or 3.13% of absentee ballots in the 29 municipalities.
Problems discovered by the Audit Bureau with the 14,710 absentee ballots included: only a partial witness address, no witness address, no witness signature or no voter signature.
Of the 14,710 absentee applications the LAB physically reviewed, 1,022 had only a partial witness address or 6.95% and not the full witness address which is clearly required by law.
Voting Fraud Evidence
Auditors did not set out to root out voting fraud, but several incidents seemingly feel in their lap.
They discovered 24 individuals with two active voter accounts just by checking the system for duplicate driver’s license numbers. Additionally, 8 felons voted in the election. Also, they found 11 people’s absentee votes were counted who died before election day.
Other Big Problems
The final report found WEC violated state law or advised others to violate state law in various ways.
- 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 fell short many ways, including:
- WEC’s last data-sharing agreement with DHS to identify dead voters expired in 2016.
- WEC’s last data-sharing agreement with DOC to identify felons was written before the WisVote system was created.
Local clerks had their share of missteps too:
- Local clerks failed to remove over 12,500 dead voters from the rolls before election day.
- Local clerks failed to remove 820 felons from the voter rolls before election day.
- Local clerks appear to have violated state law requiring them to initial absentee ballot certificates.
- At least 17.5% of municipal clerks did not complete their required training by election day. (WEC failed to notify the local governments when their clerks did not complete training.)
- 9% of municipalities still have not reconciled inconsistent data from the 2020 election in WisVote. Combined, those municipalities reported 2,840 more people voting than there were ballots cast.
- 12,237 ballots were “remade” at central count facilities for a variety of reasons. (Remember the former Brown County Clerk observed workers using black pens for this task, which made the changes untraceable.)
- 9% of tamper-evident seals on ballot bags were unsigned by poll workers. The auditors wrote “The forms without initials may indicate poll workers found problems with the seals or forgot to initial the forms.
Read more at the MacIver Institute.