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Wisconsin Elections Commission announces actions to keep absentee voting secure after fraudulent incidents

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Spring Election

 

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is sending postcards to thousands of voters to ensure the absentee ballots due to be delivered to addresses different from those the voters previously had on file aren’t part of a recent wave of fraudulent absentee ballot requests.

Those nearly 4,000 postcards are part of an Elections Commission effort announced Thursday to ensure secure absentee voting after two Wisconsin residents admitted to fraudulently ordering absentee ballots for others in an effort to show that such fraud is possible.

Other initiatives announced Thursday include monitoring the statewide voter registration system and expediting formal complaints related to fraudulently ordering absentee ballots.

“Voters should rest assured that voting absentee remains a secure way to vote in the upcoming August 9 Partisan Primary,” Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said in a statement. “However, to provide additional reassurance, election officials at the state and local level continue to closely monitor for any indication of potentially unauthorized absentee ballot requests, no matter how rare those incidents may be.”

The postcards will confirm receipt of the absentee ballot requests and state: “The absentee request indicated you would like your ballot sent to an address other than your home/voter registration address.”

The postcards ask voters who didn’t submit those requests to call or email the commission at elections@wisconsin.gov. It will tell voters who did make such requests that they’re not required to take further action.

Commissioners also agreed to refer suspicious activity to municipal clerks, which could lead to clerks canceling potentially fraudulent absentee ballot requests. Clerks who identify and act upon suspicious activity are asked to report that to the commission and law enforcement. The commission and clerks would also work to fulfill law enforcement requests for data and information related to potentially fraudulent absentee ballot requests, the statement says.

And while the website where people request absentee ballots, MyVote.wi.gov, previously contained some statutory language citing the rules, voters are now required to acknowledge a new warning before the request can be submitted that states, “Any person who impersonates a registered elector, poses as another person for the purpose of voting at an election, falsely procures registration or election materials, or otherwise violates the law will be referred for prosecution.”

The commission also encouraged voters to check their status at MyVote to see whether an absentee ballot request has been made in their name.

The 2020 election is over. Here’s what happened (and what didn’t)

The 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which coordinates the nation’s election infrastructure.

While a handful of voters risked going to prison by attempting to vote twice or in the name of a dead relative, as happens in any election, no evidence of widespread fraud has ever been produced in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Yet, many continue to question some of the practices clerks relied on to encourage eligible voters to cast ballots and make sure their votes were counted amid the first election in more than 100 years held during a pandemic.

The Wisconsin State Journal has covered every twist and turn of this debate in scores of stories. But here are a few that offered some broader context about what happened, and didn't happen, in the election of 2020.

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The clear insinuation was that someone not qualified to conduct an election improperly influenced these vulnerable voters. But the Wisconsin State Journal could not confirm the data. 

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The state has multiple, overlapping safeguards aimed at preventing ineligible voters from casting ballots, tampering with the ballots or altering vote totals.

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Nothing in the emails suggests there were problems with the election that contributed in any meaningful way to Trump's 20,682-vote loss to Joe Biden.

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"Despite concerns with statewide elections procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure," Sen. Rob Cowles said Friday.

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The grants were provided to every Wisconsin municipality that asked for them, and in the amounts they asked for. 

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"Application of the U.S. Department of Justice guidance among the clerks in Wisconsin is not uniform," the memo says.

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YORKVILLE — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Thursday morning news conference that it has identified eight cases of what it believes to be election fraud at a Mount Pleasant nursing home.

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The memo states that state law gives the Audit Bureau complete access to all records during an audit investigation and federal law and guidance does not prohibit an election official from handing over election records.

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Drop boxes were used throughout Wisconsin, including in areas where Trump won the vast majority of counties.

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"I don't think that you instill confidence in a process by kind of blindly assuming there's nothing to see here," WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg said.

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The report is the latest to show that there was not widespread fraud in Wisconsin.

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The turnout at nursing homes in Brown, Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine counties in 2020 was not much different from the turnout in 2016.

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