27 possible voter fraud cases in 3 million Wisconsin ballots
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin election officials identified just 27 potential cases of voter fraud out of 3.3 million ballots cast in the November presidential election and forwarded them to local district attorneys for possible prosecution, based on documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press under the state's open records law.
More than half of the cases came in a single city, where 16 people had registered with their mailing address at a UPS store, rather than their residence as required by law.
A search of online court records shows no charges have yet been filed against any of the 27 people. Also, future cases of potential fraud could always be forwarded to prosecutors.
The identified potential cases of fraud to date are in line with suspected voter misconduct in past elections in the battleground state. They are also far below unsubstantiated accusations made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters of widespread fraud and abuse in the election won by more than 20,600 votes by President Joe Biden in the state. Trump attempted to toss out more than 221,000 legally cast ballots in Wisconsin, losing in multiple state and federal courts.
Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are pushing more than a dozen bills this year that would make it more difficult to vote absentee in Wisconsin. The measures are making their way through the Legislature and any that pass are expected to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The bills are part of a national push by Republicans to change voting laws following Trump’s defeat in November and his bogus claims that there was widespread fraud and abuse.
Republicans in Wisconsin have also ordered an audit of the election, which is expected to take months, and the Assembly Elections Committee has approved launching its own investigation. Lawmakers say they received thousands of complaints of irregularities, but the records obtained by AP show just a handful that were identified by election officials charged with making sure voting laws are followed.
The AP received every case identified by local clerks that were forwarded to the Wisconsin Elections Commission as required under state law. The records detail cases where election officials noted an irregularity that may be have been illegal and flagged it for prosecutors to investigate.
More than half of the total cases, 16 of 27, were people in the city of La Crosse whose registered address was at a UPS Store. State law requires voters to be registered at their residential address. The clerk sent those voters a letter giving them 30 days to register at a residential address for future elections.
Of the 11 other cases: four people voted both in person and absentee; one was a convicted felon; one was an absentee ballot returned by the son of the person who requested it and who voted in person; three people voted in two places; one person returned two absentee ballots; and one person who had been adjudicated incompetent and wasn’t allowed to cast a ballot.
It’s impossible to know who those identified voted for, since ballots are secret. Voters also do not register by political party in Wisconsin, so it’s not known if they were Republican or Democrat.
Republican legislative leaders, including those who have called for investigations into the election, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Friday. A spokeswoman for the state Republican Party also had no immediate comment.
Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach said the numbers are no surprise and Republicans need to accept that Biden won. Trump foes have been using “the big lie” to describe his repetition of his fallacious claim that the election was fraud-ridden.
“Whatever excuse the Republicans have for massive fraud in Wisconsin, it’s just simply not true,” Erpenbach said. “It’s all based on ‘the big lie.’ They need to stop spreading ‘the big lie.’”
The Wisconsin Elections Commission will be conducting audits for voting by felons and cross-state voting as soon as data becomes available, said the agency’s spokesman Reid Magney. Those numbers will be reported later this year, he said.
The last report, issued following the spring 2019 election when turnout was 1.2 million, found just 15 cases of suspected fraud. The latest numbers are in line with past elections, Magney said.