The Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) was directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) to do an elections administration audit on February 11, 2021. The highly anticipated final report is now published.
The City of Madison (2nd most populous in Wisconsin) and Milwaukee County (most populous) did not allow LAB to physically handle election records, including ballots and absentee ballot certificates, citing chain of custody concerns. Along with another small town that refused, 18.9% of all ballots cast in Wisconsin were inaccessible to this LAB audit.
The LAB audit is only one of several ongoing election integrity efforts in Wisconsin. An investigation with subpoena power is led by a former Supreme Court Justice, Michael Gableman acting as Special Counsel. Various legislation has been introduced to reform election law. Reps Janel Brandtjen and Timothy Ramthun are still pushing for a full forensic audit of ballots and machines.
Keeping in mind that the certified totals that gave Joe Biden Wisconsin’s electoral votes have him winning the state by about 20,500 votes, here are a few of the more significant takeaways of Friday’s LAB audit report.
- 950,000+ voters were found to be newly registered in 2020 alone (~3.3 million Wisconsinites voted in total). Half of those registered online, and ~6% by mail.
- 45,000+ of those newly registered voters provided personally identifiable information during registration that did not match existing data from the WI Department of Transportation (DOT) (vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, state identification cards). For 13,000+ more, no attempt was made to match the information with DOT data.
- There is a sizeable gap between the county with the highest percentage of voters voting by absentee (74.4%) and the county with the lowest (26.3%).
- The absentee certificate is typically the envelope in which the ballot is returned to the election clerk. ~7% of a sampling of absentee certificates had incomplete information– mostly partial witness addresses—but less than 0.1% of absentee ballots were rejected (absentee ballots can be rejected by the clerk if the certificates are incomplete). Simple extrapolation implicates as many as 100,000 certificates with incomplete information statewide.
- Statutes require that the certificates include voter signature, witness signature, and witness address. Almost all certificates reviewed had voter signatures, though no review was reported as having been completed that would determine whether those signatures matched existing signatures in voter registration and other state data.
- Absentee ballots can be ‘remade’ if the equipment cannot read it. A sampling of ballots that were counted at central counting locations revealed 1.4% of them had been remade. Though that sample is not random, it would extrapolate to 28,000 statewide.
- Municipal election clerks did not initial absentee ballot certificates consistently as required by statutes, which indicates that in some cases, that ballot must not be counted.
Electronic Voting Machines
- Only half of a sampling of municipalities completed statutorily required testing of electronic voting equipment within 10 days of the election.
- ~13% of election day forms were not initialed as they should have been to indicate verification of the integrity of the tamper-proof seals on electronic voting machines.
Administration by the Wisconsin Elections Commission
- The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) did not consistently obtain data from the 3rd party Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) that can be used to compare both inter-and intra-state data toward voter roll accuracy. Membership to the system is required by statute, but consistent data policy is not.
- WEC provided guidance that did not comply with state statutes regarding absentee voting by indefinitely confined voters, dropboxes, relocating polling places, and adjourning on election night. That guidance is the subject of the ongoing Special Counsel election integrity investigation.
- WEC did not complete statutorily required error rate analysis of electronic voting equipment across the state.
- WEC received 1,521 election-related concerns through its website. The commission was not required and did not track whether or how they responded to those concerns.
… Via – Undercover DC