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Trafficking in votes

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Absentee ballot drop boxes, which exploded in use in 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns, were a potential beehive of “organized crime,” voting integrity activists told the Assembly Campaign and Elections Committee at a hearing Thursday.

Texas-based True the Vote worked with contractor VoteStand in tracking the cellphone data points at and around drop boxes in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Racine in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election (Oct. 20 to Nov. 3). The individuals also were tracked to liberal nongovernmental organizations — often to and from the offices and the ballot drop boxes.

Using geospatial technology, they tracked 138 unique devices (individuals) that went to drop boxes in the three cities more than 3,500 times. Ultimately, the exhaustive analysis showed 7 percent of Wisconsin’s 1.9 million mail-in ballots were “trafficked” by ballot harvesters. That number held up in every battleground state the voter integrity groups examined.

“This is a number that should concern everyone, There were 4.8 million votes cast nationally in this fashion,” Gregg Phillips, founder of VoteStand, testified.

“If you consider that some of the elections in some of the states were pretty close, it really is troubling that this could have happened … It’s an organized crime that was perpetrated on America.”


The analysis also found that 14 of the targeted devices were at one or more of the violent riots that occurred in Wisconsin in the summer of 2020.

Catherine Engelbrecht, of True the Vote, told committee members that the combination of the legally questionable drop boxes and Wisconsin’s dirty voters rolls led to opportunities for widespread manipulation.

“We’re not suggesting the ballots cast were illegal ballots; we are saying the ballots were abused,” she said. “And this kind of abuse is pervasive in our most vulnerable communities.”

Engelbrecht recommends the Legislature:

— Commit to clean voter rolls and real-time technology. Outdated voter registration is “the gateway to all the fraud.”

— More clearly define ballot harvesting in state laws. That includes banning ballot harvesting events like Madison’s Democracy in the Park.

— Stop private funding for elections (Zuckbucks)

— Make penalties for cheating something cheaters fear.

And “completely banning the ballot drop boxes would be a good start,” Phillips said.

A lawsuit on that very issue is now before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. On Thursday, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Republican National Committee filed a brief in the case opposing the use of drop boxes, which the lawsuit argues are illegal under current state law.

“Wisconsin has clear laws against ballot harvesting, but activist members of the unelected Wisconsin Election Commission disregarded them in the 2020 election. Republicans will not allow such un-democratic attacks on election integrity to go unchallenged,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

Campaign and Elections Committee member Rep. Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield) said the Republican-led Legislature has tried to tighten election security and expand transparency.

“Many of the election bills we passed were vetoed by the governor,” the lawmaker said.

Gov. Tony Evers is expected to veto several recently passed election reform bills in the coming days.

True the Vote joined forces with conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in producing a documentary exposing, among other things, the complete lack of security around the ballot drop boxes that became so prevalent during the pandemic.

Watch the trailer for 2000 Mules, D’Souza’s documentary, here.

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