October 22, 2021 | MacIver News Service
By: Bill Osmulski
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 Commissioners. 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.
Among the most alarming 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.
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, 45,665 new voters registered in 2020 with driver’s license information that did not match DMV records.
“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.
DOT does not provide personal identification data to help WEC determine the nature of mismatches, even if WEC wanted to do something about it.
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. Also, they found 11 people’s absentee votes were counted who died before election day. Additionally, 8 felons voted in the election. Preventing incidents like those is a major reason why WEC exists in the first place.
Citizen Complaints and Concerns
When the legislature began asking questions after the 2020 election, WEC insisted no one had filed any official complaints with them about how the election was handled.
It turns out there were 34 official complaints, plus another 1,521 “concerns” that were submitted through a form on WEC’s website. (Someone submitting a “concern” might very well have thought they were submitting a complaint.)
WEC dismissed 25 or 34 complaints about the conduct of election officials and alleged violations of election law; 6 are still pending; 2 were withdrawn; and 1 was resolved by WEC simply telling an election official to follow the law.
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 violated state law by not obtaining individual’s signatures from DMV records for everyone who registers to vote online.
- 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 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.)
Audit Bureau: We are not touching that
Although they pointed out various state laws that were broken by WEC or other officials, there were certain high-profile incidents they choose to ignore.
Auditors did not determine if “Democracy in the Park” was an illegal ballot harvesting operation. Instead pointed to small town clerks, whose official office is their home and collected ballots at alternate locations.
Green Bay invited a Facebook funded political operative to help run its election. The Audit Bureau did not determine if this was illegal or not. (It’s clear from Assembly Hearings on that matter, that the Green Bay consultant’s involvement violated state election laws).
(Green Bay was not the only municipality to have a “consultant” working at central count. The report did not name the other one.)
The Legislative Audit Bureau is not the only entity looking into the 2020 election. Rep. Janel Brandtjen has been conducting hearings all year, and former State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is conducting an independent audit on behalf of the Assembly Speaker’s office.