Candidates file their forms with the filing officer at the level of office they are running for. Federal, Statewide, and multijurisdictional judicial candidates file their Declaration of Candidacy and Nomination Papers with Wisconsin Elections Commission. Statewide, and multijurisdictional judicial candidates file their Campaign Finance Registration Statement and Statement of Economic Interests with Wisconsin Ethics Commission. 

    Anyone can view the list of candidates running for office. For federal, statewide, and multijurisdictional judge positions, Wisconsin Elections Commission publishes and posts the Candidate Tracking by Office report ahead of the election. Voters can view exactly who will be on their ballot on the Type B notice published by the clerks on the Friday before the election. They may also view a sample ballot on MyVote.

    Note: Sample ballots will not appear in MyVote until the list of candidates has been certified and added to the election by the clerks. Voter can expect to be able to view their sample ballot up to two weeks before the election.

    The number of signatures needed to get your name added to the ballot is dependent on the level of office you are running for. Please consult the Ballot Access checklist for the office for federal, statewide, and multi-jurisdictional judicial offices. Local candidates should check with their local filing officers (county, municipal, or school district clerks).

    No. All Wisconsin voter registration numbers are unique.

    Wisconsin voter registration numbers consist of at least 9 characters and are alpha-numeric. This means they may include both numbers and letters.  They may also begin with any character, including a zero. Thus, the registration number is really a special code and not merely a number.

    This small distinction sometimes causes confusion because people (and some common programs) often ignore leading zeros. For example, Microsoft Excel will automatically remove leading zeros from entries it identifies as numbers. If someone opens a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file in Excel without preserving leading zeros, Excel will erase them all. Thus, 000012345 becomes 12345. To preserve the digits, a user must access the original CSV file and import it to Excel using the “Get Data” tool. Or use dedicated database software such as Access to open the file. 

    It’s worth remembering that computers don’t "read" numbers like we do. A computer considers each individual character equally. To the computer, the character zero is just like any other and its meaning must be defined. You have to tell a computer to ignore a leading zero (as Excel does). 

    Finally, the use of alpha-numeric codes including zeros makes Wisconsin voter registration ‘numbers’ significantly more complex than a mere number.

    Characters                 Number of Possibilities Alpha-Numeric          Number of Possibilities Numeric Only (1-9)

    1                                 95                                                                                   9

    2                                 4,465                                                                              99

    3                                 138,415                                                                          999

    4                                 3,183,545,000,000                                                         9,999

    ...                                                ...                                                                       ...

    10                               10,104,934,110,000,000,000,000                                  9,999,999,999

    • Default dates of birth and voter registration dates in the WisVote database is not a newly discovered issue or an indication of voter fraud.  This information has been in the State Voter Registration System (SVRS) and WisVote system since at least 2006 and is the result of data migration from over 200 different legacy voter registration systems maintained by individual municipalities that in 2005 were moved into the comprehensive statewide system.    
    • Individuals and advocacy groups reporting that a 1/1/1900 date of birth or a 1/1/1918 registration date for a voter in WisVote is a sign of fraud, hacking or some other irregularity that impacted an election are unfortunately contributing to misinformation about Wisconsin elections, based on a lack of understanding of how SVRS and WisVote came into existence more than 15 years ago.

    Here is why those seemingly odd, and old, dates exist in WisVote: 

    Prior to 2005 voter registration in municipalities with less than 5,000 in population was not required in Wisconsin.  In municipalities with more than 5,000 in population, voter registration was required and was tracked in many different databases and spreadsheets maintained by those municipalities – not by the state of Wisconsin in any central location. 

    The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”) required “statewide” voter registration in Wisconsin (and all other states with a population greater than 500,000 residents) and it required the state agency overseeing elections to maintain a database of voters in all cities, villages, and towns in Wisconsin (approximately 1,850 across 72 counties).

    To comply with federal and state law, the State Elections Board (succeeded by the Government Accountability Board, and later the current Wisconsin Elections Commission) developed the original statewide voter registration database and election management system called SVRS.  The SVRS has been succeeded by the current database and election management system developed and maintained by the WEC called WisVote.

    Between the passage of HAVA and full implementation of statewide voter registration in 2006, municipalities with more than 5,000 in population that already had a database of legally registered voters worked to transfer the existing voter registration data from their own municipal system (“legacy system”) into SVRS.  In some of these municipalities prior to 2006 certain pieces of voter information were not required when registering to vote and was therefore not obtained at the time the voter registered. However, that information was required in the new SVRS system per state statutes.  (Wis. Stat. § 6.36(1)).  

    In those situations where a municipality’s legacy system did not track a voter’s date of birth or initial date of registration, a default date for either of those was entered into the SVRS for that voter as these were required fields moving forward from 2006.  The default date of birth is 1/1/1900 and the default date of registration is 1/1/1918.  See FAQ on other data conversion questions regarding phone numbers found here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/7514

    Since 2006, many of these default values have gone away, as voters move or update their name which requires them to re-register to vote. The voter’s “old” record containing the default information (1/1/1900 DOB or 1/1/1918 date of registration) is merged with the “new” record that the voter creates.  This merge of records maintains the voter’s history of participation in elections, the voter’s former address or former name. Some voters have also proactively updated their date of birth with their local clerk even if they were not required to do so as part of a new voter registration. And some municipal clerks have also proactively contacted voters who have default information and asked them to update the information.

    Even so, as of fall 2021 there are still about 3,700 active voter records that contain default information for date of birth. In addition, about 120,000 records exist in the system with a default date of voter registration. Voters in either of those groups are not affected in any way by the default dates shown in their registration record.

    It’s important to note that a legally registered voter who has not changed any information which requires them to re-register stays registered regardless of whether the clerk has asked for an update or not.  Except for individual efforts by an elections clerk to update the records for a voter with the default dates, those values for date of birth and date of registration in a voter’s record remain there unless or until they have a reason to complete a new voter registration form, such as a change of address or name.

    • This issue is almost exclusive to voters in the city of Racine, and almost exclusive to inactive voters. A default phone number appears in some Inactive Voter Records in the city of Racine because of data conversion more than 15 years ago from the city’s own legacy voter registration system into the current WisVote system. 
    • The city of Racine’s legacy voter registration system likely required a phone number for all registered voters, and if one was not provided at the time a default phone number, which is a city of Racine number, was entered.  

    Here is more on why the repeat phone numbers appear in WisVote: 

    Prior to 2005, voter registration in municipalities with less than 5,000 in population was not required in the state of Wisconsin. In municipalities with more than 5,000 in population voter registration was required and was tracked in many different databases and spreadsheets maintained by those municipalities – not by the state of Wisconsin in any central location. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”) required “statewide” voter registration in Wisconsin (and all other states with a population greater than 500,000) and it required the state agency overseeing elections to maintain a database of voters in all cities, villages, and towns in Wisconsin (approximately 1,850 across 72 counties).  

    To comply with federal and state law, the State Elections Board (succeeded by the Government Accountability Board, and later, the current Wisconsin Elections Commission) developed the original statewide voter registration database and election management system called SVRS.  The SVRS has been succeeded by the current database and election management system developed and maintained by the WEC called WisVote.  

    Between the passage of HAVA and full implementation of statewide voter registration in 2006, municipalities with more than 5,000 in population that already had a database of legally registered voters worked to transfer the existing voter registration data from their own municipal system (“legacy system”) into SVRS. If a phone number existed for a voter record in a legacy system, that information was converted into SVRS and then into WisVote.  See FAQ on other data conversion questions for 1/1/1900 dates of birth and 1/1/1918 registration dates found here:  https://elections.wi.gov/node/7516

    Phone numbers are not required as part of a voter record or as part of voter registration, but some municipalities may have required a phone number in their own voter registration systems prior to the creation of SVRS and WisVote.  

    A recent blog post from an advocacy group stated that over 20,000 records in the city of Racine had the same phone number associated with a voter record. The reality is that nearly all of those records referenced are Inactive Voter Records tied to voters who have been inactive for many years. The phone number in question is a city of Racine number that appeared in the Racine legacy system, a number that was entered as a default when a voter did not provide a phone number during registration.

    It is unclear why the municipality, pre-2005, chose to have a phone number be a required field in their registration system, which required a default number to be entered if none was provided by the voter.  There are 384 active voters in Racine who have this default phone number listed in WisVote.  Those voters have not updated their phone number since the city assigned the default number prior to statewide voter registration being required after 2005. It should be noted that a phone number has no bearing on a voter’s eligibility. WEC staff have analyzed the data associated with the 384 active voters in WisVote that contain the default phone number and there is nothing else unusual about the records or other data fields in common.  

    Many voters do not provide a phone number during registration to avoid being contacted by campaigns and other organizations that purchase voter registration data from the WEC.  So, it is likely that these remaining voters have had no reason to update their voter record since they originally registered and therefore the default number remains in place.      

    HAVA Checks are comparisons between a voter registration record and a DMV or Social Security record.  They are also sometimes referred to as “DMV Checks.”  They are designed to catch typos and data entry errors to improve the quality of the voter registration list. They are not designed to be a qualification to vote.

    HAVA is the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which was passed in the wake of the problems in Florida following the 2000 election.  Among other things, HAVA required Wisconsin to create a statewide voter registration database and provided funding for that system.  Before 2006, when the system went online, Wisconsin law only required voter registration in larger cities.  In smaller towns, there was no voter registration, just a book where poll workers would write the names of voters when they came to vote.   
    Specifically, Section 303 of HAVA, titled “Computerized Statewide Voter Registration List Requirements and Requirements for Voters Who Register by Mail,” mandates the creation of a computerized list containing the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in the State, which shall serve as the official voter registration list for federal and state elections. HAVA § 303(a)(1)(A) codified at 52 U.S.C. § 21083(a)(1)(A).  HAVA requires that individuals, upon registering to vote, provide a current driver license number, if they have one, or last four digits of their Social Security Number, for those who do not. Voters who have neither a driver license nor a Social Security Number are assigned a separate identification number for purposes of the official registration list. HAVA § 303(a)(5)(A) codified at 52 U.S.C. § 21083(a)(5)(A).

    “HAVA Checks” (known more commonly as DMV Checks) occur automatically when the statewide voter registration system attempts to match data from voters with data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Social Security Administration.  

    There are two kinds of DMV Checks. The first kind are run in batches overnight on voters who register on a paper form, whether in person or by mail. This check attempts to match the voter’s name, date of birth and driver license (or state ID) number.  If the voter does not have a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card, the system tries to match the name, date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security Number with Social Security records.

    Checks for Online Voter Registration

    The second kind of DMV check happens during online voter registration (OVR).  Unlike the nightly HAVA check process, the OVR DMV check occurs nearly instantly to verify that a voter’s name, date of birth, license number, and jurisdiction match DMV records.  If the OVR DMV check does not match, the voter is not permitted to register online.  Therefore, all records with a source of “Online Registration” passed the OVR DMV check with a 100% match.

    Wisconsin law does require anyone who registers to vote online to correctly match four separate fields from their DMV record.  These DMV checks occur in real time, and there must be an exact match for the voter’s name, date of birth, DMV number and residence jurisdiction.  This check is required for proof of residence in registration.

    About HAVA Checks

    When people register to vote with their municipal clerk or at the polling place on Election Day, the WEC checks their names, dates of birth and driver license number against Wisconsin DMV records. If they do not have a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card, their names are matched with Social Security records.  These matches, known as HAVA checks, are made within 24 hours of the clerk entering the information in the statewide voter database. HAVA is an acronym for the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002.

    Approximately 5% of the people who registered to vote between January 1 and November 3, 2020, were at least initially non-matches with either DMV or Social Security databases.  That does not mean these voters are not real Wisconsin citizens.

    When there is not a match, we know that in most cases, it is the result of errors. The most common error (63%) is a mismatched name, often due to misspelling, name variation (Bob instead of Robert), nickname or a missing suffix missing (Jr. or Sr.). The next most common error (22%) is a driver license or state ID number mismatch.  Wisconsin DMV numbers have one letter and 13 digits, and non-matches often result from writing the number incorrectly on the voter registration form or entering it incorrectly in the voter database. Other innocent reasons for mismatches include typos in the data.  For example, one voter registered at the polling place on 8/11/2020.  The clerk inadvertently recorded the voter’s birthdate as 7/5/1990 instead of 7/15/1990, resulting in a non-match.

    When there is a non-match, a registered voter is never “removed” from the statewide voter database.  Neither Wisconsin nor federal law require a match, and Wisconsin law does not permit clerks or the WEC to remove a voter from the list for not matching.

    The issue of what happens with a HAVA Check mismatch is not new. In fact, it was extensively litigated in 2008 when the Wisconsin Attorney General sued the Government Accountability Board (WEC’s predecessor agency).  The AG claimed the GAB was required to remove voters with HAVA Check mismatches.

    In J.B. Van Hollen et. al v. Government Accountability Board et. al, the judge found that none of the provisions of HAVA affect the fundamental voter eligibility qualifications.  HAVA mandates action by States with regard to voting systems, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and establishment and maintenance of the official statewide voter registration list.  HAVA establishes no additional voter qualifications, except in the limited case of a first-time voter who registered by mail and who must either provide a photo identification or current proof of residence, or else must vote by provisional ballot. A successful HAVA match eliminates this additional requirement.

    The court further determined that HAVA does not mandate the imposition of a consequence or penalty for a voter whose voter registration data does not precisely match information contained in the DOT or SSA databases. The HAVA match process also does not alter the voter eligibility requirements established by state law.  The court ultimately concluded that HAVA Checks are intended to assist in improving the quality of voter data in the State’s official voter registration list on an ongoing basis, not to convert an otherwise qualified voter into an ineligible voter.  The GAB adopted the court’s findings on January 15, 2009.  

    So what happens if the DMV Check doesn’t match?

    If there is a non-match, the voter’s record is flagged in the statewide voter database for clerks to review, and the clerk receives a DMV Check alert.  Clerks are asked to review non-matches to ensure a data entry error was not responsible for the non-match result.  Clerks often are able to identify things like data entry errors but will also attempt to contact voters whose non-matches they cannot resolve.  For the treatment of non-match records in the database, the WEC observes procedures established after litigation involving its predecessor agency, the Government Accountability Board (GAB).  In J.B. Van Hollen et. al v. Government Accountability Board et. al, Dane County Court Case 08CV4085, the judge found that none of the provisions of HAVA affect the fundamental voter eligibility qualifications.  HAVA mandates action by States with regard to voting systems, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and establishment and maintenance of the official statewide voter registration list.  HAVA establishes no additional voter qualifications, except in the limited case of a first-time voter who registered by mail and who must either provide a photo identification or current proof of residence, or else must vote by provisional ballot. A successful HAVA match eliminates this additional requirement.

    The court further determined that HAVA does not mandate the imposition of a consequence or penalty for a voter whose voter registration data does not precisely match information contained in the DOT or SSA databases. The HAVA match process also does not alter the voter eligibility requirements established by state law.  Order in Dane County Court Case 08CV4085 at 10.  The judge emphasized that HAVA must be read in the context of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its prohibition on official government action denying the right to vote “because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under state law to vote in such election.” Court Order at 12.

    The court ultimately concluded that HAVA Checks are intended to assist in improving the quality of voter data in the State’s official voter registration list on an ongoing basis, not to convert an otherwise qualified voter into an ineligible voter.  By enacting and implementing HAVA, neither Congress nor the Legislature has altered the longstanding basic voter eligibility requirements, namely U.S. citizenship, age, and residency, along with an absence of disqualifying factors such as a felony conviction or a finding of incompetency.  The GAB adopted the court’s findings.  Wisconsin Government Accountability Board meeting minutes, Item F, January 15, 2009.  

    Election Day Registration Verification

    Wisconsin election law (Wis. Stat. § 6.56) requires a separate verification process for people who register to vote on Election Day.  

    If you register to vote at the polling place, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will mail an address verification postcard to you after your municipal clerk enters your voter registration into the statewide database. If the post office returns your postcard to the clerk as undeliverable, the clerk must change your record to inactive, and the clerk is required to make a referral to the district attorney’s office for investigation and possible prosecution.
    According to statistics about the November 2020 election posted on the WEC’s website (https://elections.wi.gov/statistics-data/voting-statistics), there were 6,488 undeliverable postcards and 2,922 voters who have been inactivated because of the postcard being returned. Clerks reported making 373 referrals to district attorneys so far.  After November 2016, there were far more undeliverable postcards and referrals.  There were 10,429 undeliverable postcards and 3,870 voters who were inactivated 954 as a result. Clerks reported making 954 referrals to district attorneys.

    Election Day Registration and Voting Security

    Wisconsin has allowed Election Day registration for many years, and it is extremely popular with voters who need to update their registration after they move or change their names.  It is also secure. 

    To register to vote at the polls on Election Day, a voter must provide:

    • A proof-of-residence document with a current address, such as a driver license, bank statement, tax bill, utility bill or letter from a unit of government.
    • Their driver license or state ID number (or the last four digits of their Social Security number if they don’t have a DMV number). However, there is no requirement or process in state law to verify that DMV data before they vote.  

    To vote on Election Day, all voters must show an acceptable photo ID, including a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card, U.S. Passport, military ID, veterans ID, some student IDs, tribal ID, and certificate of naturalization.  Poll workers are provided samples of acceptable photo IDs, and there has never been a problem with voters presenting fake photo IDs.


    No.  The Wisconsin Elections Commission has not received a single substantiated report of a specific person who misrepresented their identity and/or provided a fraudulent driver’s license to election officials.  

    Driver’s license checks are a complicated subject.  Some people are conflating and misinterpreting several different types of data related to the voter registration list and multiple processes designed to ensure election integrity. Voter data mismatches happen about 5% of the time, and are almost always typos, not fraud.  These voter records are never removed from the system – there are no “ghost voters.”

    Wisconsin’s election laws provide multiple layers of security designed to:

    • Prevent fraudulent registrations -- ensuring that voters are real, eligible citizens, who live in Wisconsin
    • Ensure clean voter lists – providing for deactivation of voters who die, are convicted of a felony, or who move out of state
    • Protect against voter impersonation through strict photo ID requirements. 

    The Wisconsin Elections Commission performs two types of check with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): HAVA checks and Online Voter Registration (OVR) checks.

    For more information about these checks please visit https://elections.wi.gov/node/7512.


    Some people have circulated a spreadsheet showing multiple people at the same street address and claiming that, “thousands voted from the same address,” to imply fraudulent activity.  Several different locations are mentioned but the two most commonly identified places are 1411 Ellis Avenue in the City of Ashland and 700 College Street in Beloit.  Both locations are college campuses that receive student mail at a central processing center.

    Northland College maintains its primary mailing address at 1411 Ellis Ave in the City of Ashland. The college has a central delivery location.  This means that all mail in the college goes to one central location and the students who live on campus pick up their mail there.  Multiple names may be associated with the same box number for a variety of reasons.  The student population changes from year-to-year and most students have roommates.  Many students are associated with Box 612 because a local election official accidentally changed the address of the facility to this box number.  This error primarily affects inactive (historical) records.

    As of September 17, 2021, there are 176 active voters at 1411 Ellis Avenue in the City of Ashland.  Every other record is an unregistered inactive record.  Only 151 Northland College students voted in the 2020 General Election. Since November 3, 2020, 13 of these voters have been deactivated.

    Beloit College has a similar system and maintains 700 College Street as its primary address.  At Beloit College, students receive a mailbox assignment when they move in as freshman and keep the same mailbox number for the duration of their education at the school.  Dormitories at Beloit College do not receive mail from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).  

    As of September 17, 2021, there are 256 registered voters at 700 College Street in the City of Beloit.  Just 185 students voted in the 2020 General Election.  Since November 3, 2020, 11 of these voters have been deactivated.

    These represent just two examples among many and are well known to election officials, campus administration, and the USPS.  Large apartment complexes often produce similar situations, with dozens of active voters at the same street address and perhaps hundreds of inactive records associated with previous residents.  

    There are two big reasons to retain the records of inactive, or ineligible, voters. 

    First and foremost is that the law requires it. 

    The retention of public records is essential to the maintenance of an open and transparent government.   Wisconsin Stat. § 16.61 addresses the retention of records for state agencies, and Wis. Stat. § 19.21 deals with record retention for local government entities.   More specifically, Chapter 6 of the Wisconsin Statutes establishes that registration records may be “eligible” or “ineligible” while not once referencing their destruction.

    Officials with the statutory authority to modify the statewide registration list may change a voter’s registration status from eligible (active) to ineligible (inactive).  Eligible records are registered to vote, appear on pollbooks, and can cast a ballot in statewide elections.  Ineligible records are not registered to vote, do not appear on pollbooks, and cannot cast a ballot in Wisconsin elections.

    The change from eligible to ineligible status is repeatedly referenced in the statutes, including but not limited to:

    • Section 6.36(1)(e) regarding changes to the registration list
    • Section 6.50(2) regarding failure to participate in an election for four years
    • Section 6.50(3) regarding a change in residence
    • Section 6.50(4) regarding deceased voters
    • Section 6.50(5) regarding condemned structures
    • Section 6.50(6) regarding municipal clerk powers
    • Section 6.50(7) regarding recording of ineligibility
    • Section 6.50(10) regarding the right to reregister
    • Section 6.55(2)(cs) regarding loss of voting rights due to a felony conviction
    • Section 6.56(3) regarding voter verification post cards
    • Section 6.56(4) regarding double voting

    Put simply, the law repeatedly states that a voter’s registration status shall be changed from eligible to ineligible.   Wisconsin law does not reference the destruction of voter records.

    The second, but no less important reason to retain ineligible voter records is to safeguard against fraud.

    The retention of voter history does not make it any easier to commit election fraud.  It is no more difficult or easy to change a voter record than it is to create one from scratch.   Instead, the retention of historical data helps to safeguard against abuse of the system.

    If ineligible records were destroyed, the State of Wisconsin would have no voting history.  There would be no registration history, no participation history, and most importantly, no history of why a record became ineligible.  The voter registration database is the means for election officials to track deaths; to track felons; to track people adjudicated incompetent; and to otherwise track any reason for ineligibility.  If ineligible records are destroyed, election officials would lose their only mechanism to verify these conditions.

    Voters who wish to become registered again must re-register and create a new record.  They cannot simply “reactivate” their record and no mechanism exists for voters to do so.  In general, once a record is deactivated, it stays that way.  Only in narrow and well-documented circumstances may an inactive record be re-activated. 

    Finally, it is possible for anyone to independently verify the status of ineligible records and to note any changes to active status.  All voter registration data – active and inactive – is available to the public and hundreds of copies have been produced over the years.  These records allow anyone to view ineligible records and affirm that an inactive record five years ago remains an inactive record today.  If a record has changed its status the retention of historical data allows anyone to learn who changed the status, when it was changed, and typically why it was changed. 

    If inactive records are instead destroyed, Wisconsin’s election history is lost.

    No.  Some people are alleging or implying that routine software updates to voting equipment such as mechanical tabulators will destroy records.  This is incorrect.

    Voting machine data is extremely important to election integrity.  Fortunately, the election results reporting system in Wisconsin is secure, resilient, and redundant.  The implied claim behind these rumors is that external actors accessed voting equipment remotely in order to change results and alter a nationwide election (but not, somehow, state or local races).  Fundamental to the implied threat is the absence of any specific theory proposing a viable path to the end result.  To date, no one has advanced a plausible theory illustrating how the remote electronic manipulation of certain election results in Wisconsin (among over 3,000 reporting units) could overcome municipal, county, and state security measures, circumvent the Canvass process, and avoid detection during reconciliation.

    Each and every ballot cast in Wisconsin is backed by a voter verifiable paper record.  Wisconsin is one of many states that prohibit purely electronic voting and Wisconsin election officials have consistently rejected proposals to introduce such systems to the state.  Altering electronic records is, therefore, meaningless without also altering these individual paper records – one for each voter.  Even if it were possible to alter voting machine data, the bad actor would also have to alter the paper record for every single ballot they wished to change.   These paper records are never held centrally – they are secured amongst the thousands of town, village, city and county clerks in Wisconsin. 

    The electronic results transmitted on election night are unofficial and are but one part of the process.  Official results require many weeks to prepare and undergo scrutiny at the local, county, and state levels.  Statutorily required audit processes validate paper records, such as ballots and voting machine results tapes, by hand and cannot be manipulated by electronic trickery.

    What if electronic records were manipulated, and thousands of paper records were forged?  Would this be sufficient to alter the election results without detection?  No.  Election participation is recorded by poll workers at each polling place both on paper and electronically.  Absentee ballot records are likewise recorded at 1,850 individual cities, towns and villages across Wisconsin – in most cases weeks before the election.  Following every election, local clerks participate in a deliberate reconciliation process to meticulously compare both electronic and paper records to ensure figures match.  This process is monitored by state election officials who help local officials identify and resolve any discrepancies.  When evidence of fraud is detected, state officials can and do refer the cases to County District Attorneys for prosecution.

    Data is not stored on tabulators.  In fact, most tabulators are incapable of network connections.  Only 25 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties use modem-equipped devices to transmit unofficial data wirelessly on election night.  Regardless of whether a tabulator has a modem or not, data isn’t stored on tabulators because they need to be available for the next election.  Clerks are expected to erase tabulator data between elections.  This does not mean that data is destroyed.  Wis. Stat. § 7.23(1)(g) governs data retained on electronic voting systems.  It states:

    "Detachable recording units and compartments for use with tabulating equipment for an electronic voting system may be cleared or erased 14 days after any primary and 21 days after any other election. Before clearing or erasing the units or compartments, a municipal clerk shall transfer the data contained in the units or compartments to a disk or other recording medium which may be erased or destroyed 22 months after the election to which the data relates. The requirement to transfer data does not apply to units or compartments for use with tabulating equipment for an electronic voting system that was approved for use prior to January 1, 2009, and that is not used in a federal election."  Wis. Stat. § 7.23(1)(g)

    The statute expressly authorizes the erasure of data from tabulating equipment while also stating the mechanism to backup data.  All tabulating equipment used in Wisconsin employs external memory devices and most systems have redundant storage with a second or even a third storage module. This external storage of data allows clerks to easily clear the devices and prepare them for the next use.

    What if the clerk fails to backup the data?  Both tabulators and election management systems used to collect results maintain independent systems recording events on each device.  

    What about device IP logs?  An IP log is generally understood to mean a list of internet protocol addresses that either attempted to connect, or did connect, with a device.  As noted above, most election equipment has no connectivity at all.  Those that do possess specialist equipment to secure and monitor their connections. Any number of devices participating in an internet connection may log (record) information and there is no standard for an “IP log.”  Device firewalls typically retain firewall logs.  The SFTP server may retain logs of connections attempted.  Operating systems maintain their own event logs that track attempts to connect to the device or to manipulate information on the device.  Each of these logs may contain IP address information.  Both tabulators and election management systems maintain logs separate from the election data that clerks may delete.  The hardware and software employed varies by manufacturer.  

    Will software updates erase device logs?  No.  System updates are no more likely to erase election equipment data than the latest Windows update is likely to erase all the information on your computer.  Software updates are a normal and a necessary part of technology that increase the security of machines used to administer elections.  These software updates are offered by the manufacturer and Wisconsin towns, cities, villages and counties may elect to accept or decline the updates as they see fit.  

    No, that is incorrect. It is based on a misunderstanding of the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s decision to approve a new version of a voting system. 

    Misinformation about upgrades to Dominion Voting Systems in Wisconsin came from Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” in August 2021. A speaker at the symposium claimed that the Wisconsin Elections Commission gave Dominion Voting Systems permission to update all the voting equipment in Wisconsin. That’s not what happened.

    First, some background.  There are multiple voting equipment vendors with different systems approved for use in Wisconsin including Dominion, ES&S, and Clear Ballot.  

    Before companies can sell voting equipment to local governments in Wisconsin, the system must be approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.   When the WEC receives applications from voting equipment vendors, staff tests them to determine whether they meet the requirements of Wisconsin’s election laws.  A Voting Equipment Review Panel made up of clerks holds a public meeting to review the application and provide feedback to the Commission.  The six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission must then vote to approve the system before the vendor can sell it in Wisconsin.

    Voting equipment vendors sell voting systems to counties and municipalities.  The WEC does not approve or have copies of those contracts, but does maintain a list of which municipalities use which voting equipment systems here: https://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/voting-equipment/voting-equipment-use

    At its June 2, 2021 meeting, the WEC did approve an application from Dominion for a new version of Dominion Voting Systems Democracy Suite, versions 5.5-C and 5.5-CS.  All the information about that meeting, including Dominion’s application, the staff report, the meeting minutes and video are here: https://elections.wi.gov/node/7340.  

    The WEC’s approval of a new voting system does not mean Dominion customers will be upgraded. For individual municipalities and counties to have their systems upgraded, they would have to buy the new version of the system.  

    Are counties required to keep their voting equipment and programming for 22 months after a federal election?

    Federal and state laws require local election officials to retain certain election materials, including ballots, for 22 months after a federal election. Wis. Stats §7.23.  This includes copies of data from the memory devices for each piece of voting equipment.  However, the law does not require retention of voting equipment or copies of programs on computers that are used to manage voting equipment for 22 months after an election. 

    Does anyone keep copies of the code used to program voting equipment?

    Yes.  The State of Wisconsin requires voting equipment vendors whose systems have been approved for use in the state to escrow a copy of their source code.  This means that each time the Wisconsin Elections Commission approves a new version of a voting system, the vendor must deposit a copy of the source code with an escrow company.  


    Absolutely not.

    The idea of “ghost voters” or "phantom voters" comes from a conspiracy theory that the election was stolen by adding votes from “ghost voters” who were then deleted from the voter list so there would be no evidence of them.  The theory assumes unknown entities somehow hacked both the voter registration system and the voting tabulation systems, flipped vote totals on Election Night, then removed voter records to cover the crime. 

    The theory is absurd and has no grounding in the reality of how elections systems work.  Nonetheless, people are claiming that “ghost voters” were deleted from the active voter list after Election Day.

    Every voter who registers in Wisconsin is tracked in the state’s voter registration database.  Those who are eligible to vote have a status of “active registered,” and their names appear on the printed poll book at each polling place.   Those who become ineligible to vote (because they have died, moved away, been convicted of a felony, etc.) have a status of “inactive,” and their names are never printed in the poll book.  Voters who become inactive must reregister to vote by providing a valid proof-of-residence document if they are eligible.  People in the database can change status from active-registered to inactive, but they are never deleted from the voter database because keeping those voter records helps improve election security and provides a historical record.

    In most cases, the only officials who can create or change a voter record in the state database are municipal clerks and their deputies.  The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which maintains the voter registration database used by clerks, has limited authority to deactivate voters. The Commission may deactivate voters who move out of Wisconsin, and through the Four-Year Voter Record Maintenance process, which happens every two years following a general election. No third parties are permitted access to the voter database.  For more information about the latest Four-Year Voter Record Maintenance, please visit https://elections.wi.gov/node/7483

    For information about the reasons a voter may be deactivated after an election, please see WEC’s statement: https://elections.wi.gov/node/7478

    The number of active registered voters fluctuates as people register or as they are moved from the active list to the inactive list by their municipal clerks, ranging between 3.4 million to 3.7 million.  As of August 2021, there are 3.5 million active registered voters. Only active registered voters appear on the poll book and are eligible to receive a ballot, either in-person or by absentee ballot.

    In addition to the active registered list, there is an inactive list with about 3.6 million voters. People are made inactive (ineligible) when they die, move and register in another state, are convicted of a felony, are adjudicated incompetent to vote, or are made inactive through statutory voter list maintenance processes (aka “purging). If you’re on the list as inactive, that means you’re not eligible to vote unless you reregister to vote, which includes providing a proof-of-residence document that establishes where you live in Wisconsin (and where you vote).

    Wisconsin keeps track of its voters in a statewide voter registration database.  The database system is provided and maintained by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, and the voter records are managed by the state’s 1,849 municipal clerks.  The entire number of people in the statewide voter registration database is 7.1 million which includes 3.6 million inactive voters

    Why don’t you just delete the inactive voters?

    Wisconsin law requires that there be an active and an inactive voter list. There are several reasons for doing this. First, it’s a historical public record, and cannot be deleted. But primarily, it allows your voter history to follow you when you move and reregister, even if there is a gap because you move out of Wisconsin for a few years and then return and register again. Also, if someone is dead and if the clerk gets a registration form for that person, the clerk would see that the person is deceased and would not register them.

    Is the voter list bigger than Wisconsin’s adult population?

    No. For 2020, the Census estimated there are 4.5 million adults in Wisconsin, and there are 3.5 million active registered voters. The Census numbers will be updated once the actual population figures are released later in 2021.


    Voter Registration and List Maintenance Facts


    • Wisconsin has a voting-age population of 4,536,293 people, according to estimates by the state’s Demographic Services Center.
    • Of those, 3,535,850 people were actively registered to vote on August 1, 2021.
    • State law requires the Elections Commission to conduct voter list maintenance every two years after each General Election.  The procedure is to identify people who are registered but have not voted in the past four years, contact them by mail, and deactivate them if they do not respond or do not wish to remain registered.
    • The number of postcards mailed every two years varies greatly, depending on whether it follows an election for president or for governor.  In 2019, the state mailed approximately 113,000 postcards to voters, compared to approximately 381,000 postcards in 2017.
    • Congress exempted Wisconsin from the National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter law) in 1993 because Wisconsin has Election Day Registration.  Motor Voter has certain restrictions on list maintenance that do not apply to Wisconsin.
    • Wisconsin has had a statewide voter registration list since 2006.  
    • The Elections Commission works closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to identify and remove voters who have died or been convicted of a felony. 
    • In 2016, Wisconsin joined the multi-state Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which provides the state with additional tools to identify voters who may have moved or died out of state.

    No.  Wisconsin State Statute 7.10 explicitly gives the responsibility of preparing, printing, and distributing ballots to county clerks, based on templates developed and approved by the Wisconsin Elections Commission for each election cycle.  

    Ballot templates are approved by the Commission at a public meeting, which gives the public, political parties and elected officials an opportunity to provide feedback in advance.  Once approved, ballot templates must be used by county clerks to create the ballots for each municipality.  County clerks provide those ballot designs to WEC staff for an additional review, and only slight variations from the template are allowed.
    County clerks design and lay out ballots in conjunction with the programming of electronic voting equipment.  Many county clerks do this work in their offices with their own staff and computers. Others have contractual relationships with voting equipment vendors to provide these services.
    County clerks are also responsible for arranging for the printing all the ballots for their municipalities.  Some clerks print ballots in-house, while others use vendors who specialize in ballot printing.  Once printed, county clerks are also responsible for delivering ballots to the municipal clerks by deadlines established in state statutes so they can be mailed to absentee voters.  

    Attached is a document that explains in greater details the process flow for how ballots are designed and printed in Wisconsin.  

    No, Wisconsin’s Badger Books epollbook system is not connected to the internet.  The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which created the software for Badger Books, designed the system with cybersecurity as a top priority.

    Badger Books are an electronic poll book system available to Wisconsin’s municipal clerks who wish to use it in their jurisdictions.  WEC provides the software to municipalities at no cost, but the municipality must purchase computer hardware used to run the system.  

    Badger Books never touch the internet, which is in accordance with the Commission’s directive outlining the creation and implementation of an electronic poll book program.  

    In polling places where there is more than one Badger Book station, the devices do connect to each other to update the electronic poll list.  The network they use to communicate is either via an encrypted wireless router or a hardwired ethernet cable through a secure router that is not connected to the Internet.  All guidance and training provided to the municipalities by WEC staff stress the importance of this lack of external connectivity. 

    The voter list for each municipality that uses Badger Books is generated and downloaded by the municipal clerk (or their staff) prior to an election from Wisconsin’s statewide voter database. This poll book detail file is loaded onto an encrypted USB device, which is then inserted into the Badger Book at the polling place to load the details necessary to administer the election. In other words, it is securely transferred by physical means to the device only when needed, and it never reaches the internet or is part of any virtual transfer process. Following the election, the data is taken from the Badger Book, loaded onto a USB device, and uploaded back into the statewide voter database. This data includes voter participation, Election Day Registration information, etc. These are the only two steps during which the internet is used at all and, as they are happening on the clerk office’s computer and accessible only to authorized users of the statewide voter system, there should be no internet-related agita geared toward the Badger Book devices themselves. The data is only being uploaded from/to that device via the security of the clerk’s system account.

    WEC is currently seeking proposals from computer hardware vendors to provide devices and hardware support that municipal clerks can purchase to run Badger Books.  The security protocols, training, and guidance offered to the clerks will remain intact despite the potential for a change in equipment or suppliers.  Again, the RFP is only meant to possibly update the hardware being used, provide a vehicle for purchasing hardware and hardware support, and to encourage municipal use of Badger Books.  It will not fundamentally alter anything about the Badger Books solution or processes.

    Yes, information security professionals at the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and state cybersecurity experts from multiple agencies have reviewed claims in the video and have found them to be false. 

    • There is no evidence in this video, or anywhere else, that anyone hacked into any Wisconsin state or local election system or changed any votes from one candidate to another candidate.
    • Every ballot in Wisconsin is either cast on paper (90%) or has a voter-verifiable paper record (10%), which is not tied to any computer network.  
    • The systems used to count those ballots were publicly audited for accuracy before the results were certified, and no problems were detected in the counting of ballots in the presidential election. 
    • Wisconsin requires each county to canvass election results at public meetings before certification, which involves checking all vote totals against paper records, verifying chain of custody records, and other procedures designed to catch and correct errors.  
    • For these and other reasons, the claims presented in the video regarding computer network activity changing votes in Wisconsin have no credibility whatsoever. 

    Beyond the false hacking claims, the video also presents debunked claims about how elections were administered:

    • “United States Postal Service backdated ballots” – This claim has been found to be false following a criminal investigation conducted by the USPS Inspector General.  Furthermore, ballots in Wisconsin are accepted or rejected based on their actual arrival time to the clerk – not any printed date or postmark.  No ballot can be counted if it arrives after the polls close, regardless of the date and time in the postmark. 
    • “Surge of indefinitely confined voters in 2020” – While there were more indefinitely confined voters in 2020, there is no evidence that any of them were ineligible to vote.
    • “Mail-in ballots entering the tabulation process under the guise of absentee ballots in clear violation of state law.”  – This claim was reviewed by state and federal judges and was found to be meritless.

    The centerpiece of the “Absolute Proof” video is claims about alleged computer hacking presented by a person identified as Mary Fanning, a “National Intelligence Researcher and Author.” The video includes screenshots of spreadsheets claiming to show records of foreign attacks or intrusions on counties throughout the United States.  The spreadsheet includes Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of county computers that Ms. Fanning claims were hacked, as well as “the number of votes they stole from Donald Trump.”  In some cases, the number of votes which the video claims were stolen from President Trump is greater than the number of registered voters in the entire county.

    WEC and WI-DOJ cybersecurity professionals identified the following issues with the video’s claims about Wisconsin.

    Objectively False Claims

    • The votes changed column presents impossible numbers. 
    • For example, the video claims that in Adams County, 17,044 votes were taken away from Trump.  This is impossible, as Adams County has only 13,595 registered voters.  There were 11,818 votes cast for president in the entire county, with 7,362 (62%) going to Trump and 4,329 going to Biden
    • In Clark County, the video claims 23,909 were taken away from Trump, another impossibility because Clark County has only 17,201 registered voters.  Of those, 14,898 voted for president, with 10,002 (67%) going to Trump and 4,524 going to Biden.
    • The spreadsheet on the video shows several counties using the same IP address – an error repeated several times.  Lafayette and Lincoln counties are alleged to use the same server, as are Fond Du Lac and Outagamie, Vernon and Vilas, Langlade and Marinette. Ashland, Barron, Rusk, Polk, Jackson, and Pepin all share one IP address.  This is false.
    • The IP addresses shown in the video appear to be largely random sites from across the internet.  By pausing the video, we were able to identify 73 IP addresses attributed to the alleged attackers and victims.  These IP addresses are located in the United States, Germany, the U.K. and the British Virgin Islands.  Few correspond to any of the locations claimed in the video. Some of the alleged Wisconsin IPs are actually in other states.  There were also a variety of sites owned by Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.  None revealed significant threat scores indicating any history of malicious behavior. 
    • Even if the claimed attacks were real – and there is no evidence provided that they are – it is impossible to manipulate results in Wisconsin as claimed in the video.  There’s simply no information in any jurisdiction’s network to change.  With a voter-verifiable paper record for each ballot there’s also no way to use the internet to manipulate the paper.  Finally, the election night reporting has nothing to do with the official certified results.

    No Attribution

    • There is no way to independently verify the claims because video provides no source for the massive volume of nationwide network traffic history that it claims to possess.  There is, however, considerable evidence that the claims are untrue.  
    • The video scrolls through a spreadsheet on screen, and purports to have incredibly specific information that would have to be collected from hundreds of locations, but there is nothing explaining its origin. 
    • There is virtually no information about who Mary Fanning is or what her credentials are. 

    No Methodology

    • The video provides no explanation at all for how the information was obtained.  Whoever collected it apparently possesses unprecedented capabilities that likely rival or exceed those of the most sophisticated intelligence agencies on Earth. 
    • While it is possible for someone in a major internet trunk data center to observe a large volume of traffic with source and destination IPs, the traffic described in the video would be encrypted. 
    • That means that Fanning and her team would either need to be capable of breaking modern encryption in real-time, which would be a world-changing capability, or they would have had to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks on all of these communications which itself would constitute hundreds of major crimes, or they would need to be present on either all of the attacker systems or all of the target systems or both. 
    • Put simply, the film’s claimed knowledge represents an omniscience that severely strains belief. 

    Incomplete Data 

    • In the video, Ms. Fanning states that the spreadsheet shows intrusions in 2,995 counties. There are fewer than 3,150 counties (or county equivalents) in the United States, meaning more than 95% of counties in the nation would have been allegedly breached.  But the only states shown on the list are states that were challenged by President Trump.  Likewise, there is a map allegedly depicting successful “attacks” across the nation, including numerous attacks in some of the 30 states that President Trump won.
    • The spreadsheet shown on screen as “absolute proof” does not appear to be available to the public. It is not on their website.  Thus, to analyze any portion of it we had to pause the video and copy screenshots. 
    • The “success” column entries on the spreadsheet are inconsistent.  Some have no target IP, but indicate successful attacks, while some indicate successful attacks but no changes made.  Others indicate a method of successful compromise, but state the attack was unsuccessful. Again, without any source of information or explanation of methodology, these claims are meaningless.

    Illogical Claims

    • It is highly unlikely an attacker would use a different source IP address for each target IP address. It is even more unlikely a sophisticated attacker would use their own IP address. That's just not hacker tradecraft observed anywhere, and the claims are illogical as presented.  Attackers typically use either a small number of source IPs or they use IP addresses not associated with them to hide their origin. Moreover, virtually any information security professional would know this, so it’s unclear why Ms. Fanning would not at least attempt to explain it or present any evidence supporting the claim. 
    • The video references “breaking through a firewall,” a concept that would not of itself enable an attacker to do anything.  There would still be significant effort required to manipulate a network, and the video provides not the slightest explanation of how that would have occurred. 

    There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in this or any other Wisconsin election.  Wisconsin has many systems in place to deter and detect illegal voting, but there will always be small amounts of voter fraud in any election. The Wisconsin Elections Commission is dedicated to working with local election officials and law enforcement to identify and prosecute election crimes.

    After every election, local election officials and the WEC conduct audits designed to identify possible cases of voter fraud, which are referred to district attorneys for further investigation and possible prosecution. Suspected cases are reported to the public through our annual Report of Suspected Election Fraud, Irregularities or Violations pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 7.15(1)(g) to the Wisconsin Legislature. Past reports are available here.

    Historically, the most common form of voter fraud is voting by residents who are serving a felony sentence and have lost their right to vote. The WEC works closely with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and regularly receives lists of people who have been convicted of felonies, who are then removed from the eligible voter list in real time throughout the election cycle. WEC also provides lists of ineligible persons to municipal clerks so they can be screened if they attempt to register on Election Day. If an ineligible felon somehow manages to register to vote, that is caught during the felon audit after the election and referred for prosecution.

    Wisconsin’s statewide voter database is designed to identify any possible instance of double voting, and a small number of criminal referrals have been made and cases have been prosecuted over the years. Starting with the 2018 General Election, Wisconsin participates in cross-state audits searching for possible cases of voting by individuals in multiple states.

    Anyone with information about possible fraud in an election is encouraged to file a report with local law enforcement or to file a sworn complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.  State law prohibits the WEC from starting its own investigations without a sworn complaint.  For more information about how to file a complaint, please visit our complaint page

    Some observers at the recounts held in Dane and Milwaukee counties have complained that they were unable to get close enough to the workers to see everything they were doing, and for that reason, those ballots should not be counted.  State law that governs recounts allows candidates and their representatives to view materials such as ballots, but states that only recount officials can handle those materials.  Recount observers were provided with opportunities to observe election materials as they were being processed and raise objections, but, by law, were not able to touch those materials.  The county boards of canvassers in counties where the recount was conducted implemented procedures that had to balance public access with the health and safety of recount workers.

    On December 16, 2020, the lead attorney for President Trump’s recount effort in Wisconsin, James R. Troupis, testified in Washington, D.C. before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs at a hearing titled, “Examining Irregularities in the 2020 Election.”  The committee is chaired by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin.

    During the hearing, Senator Johnson asked Judge Troupis to summarize the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision denying President Trump’s request to overturn the election results following the recount.   Judge Troupis testified that he disagreed with the court’s decision, but he said this about how the recounts were conducted:

    "Senator Johnson, as you know, we have a long history in Wisconsin, unlike other states, I know unlike other states, of high transparency. Our recounts were conducted with utmost integrity by both Milwaukee and Dane County, with thousands of volunteers able to look at those items."

    Video of the hearing is here: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/examining-irregularities-in-the-2020-election. Judge Troupis made the comment at about 1 hour and 18 minutes into the hearing.

    No.  Only ballots received by the clerk by 8 p.m. on Election Day were counted.  

    UPDATE: The US Postal Service Inspector General issued a report on December 14, 2020 (see attached below). The report concluded: 

    The USPS OIG investigation determined all allegations against [REDACTED] were false.

    Based on the investigative findings this case will not be presented for criminal, civil, or administrative consideration and the allegations against [REDACTED] were resolved as unfounded.

    Many people have asked about the recent testimony of a temporary truck driver for a third-party mail contractor about his experience picking up and delivering mail to the post office in Madison before the November 3 election. The WEC has reviewed the driver’s testimony and does not believe that it provides any reliable evidence that late absentee ballots were counted.

    The driver testified, “During the runup to and on Election Day, I was working as a temporary hire at United Mailing Services, a USPS subcontracting company in Madison, Wisconsin.” 

    According to Mark Kolb, vice president of United Mailing Services, the company is not a USPS subcontractor.  UMS provides a variety of mailing services to companies and local governments, but it does not work for USPS.

    The driver testified that “my job was to pick up mail on a predetermined route that went through Cottage Grove, Windsor and the Stoughton Road area of Madison around UMS. And then I would take this mail to UMS, where it would be sorted and metered, and then I would take sorted mail on final box truck run to USPS on Milwaukee Street in Madison, Wisconsin.”

    According to village and town clerks in Cottage Grove and Windsor, they do not use UMS. According to UMS, the company stopped handling outgoing absentee ballots for its municipal customers more than a month before the election. 

    The driver testified, “In September or October, I began to deliver mail-in ballots from United Mailing Services to USPS as part of my evening box truck run. I knew that I would be taking ballots because there would always be a cart marked for me for ballots only with a special green tag that said, ‘For Ballots Only.’”

    According to UMS, the only absentee ballots they handled came from employees who worked at companies served by UMS.  For example, an employee places his or her absentee ballot in an outgoing mail bin with other work mail, which is picked up by UMS and delivered to the USPS. According to UMS, there were less than 20 to 30 such absentee ballots delivered to USPS each day.

    The driver testified that one US Postal Service employee told him USPS was looking for 100,000 missing absentee ballots the morning of Wednesday, November 4. “He then told me that his post office, the one at Milwaukee Street in Madison, Wisconsin, had dispatched employees to look for the missing ballots around 4 a.m. November 4th. He said, and I quote, ‘around 4 a.m.’ And that only seven or eight ballots were found at United Mailing Services, my work. Based on my previous experience of double-checking for the ballots, I believed that to be a lie immediately.”

    According to UMS, nobody came to their facility to look for absentee ballots.

    The driver testified that on November 5, a different USPS employee “admitted” to him that they were ordered to “backdate ballots that were received too late to be lawfully counted.” The implication of his testimony was that USPS workers backdated late absentee ballots so they could be counted.

    The USPS Inspector General investigated and found no evidence that ballot envelopes had been backdated. (See attached report below.)  Even if USPS employees somehow backdated absentee ballot envelopes or records, Wisconsin law and clerks would still not permit late ballots to be counted.  

    Wisconsin is what is called an “in-hand” ballot state.  This means postmarks on return ballots are irrelevant.  The ballot must be in the hands of the proper election official by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.  If a clerk receives a ballot after that deadline, or in the days after the election, it cannot be counted.  Municipal clerks did not consider postmarks on return ballots because they are irrelevant. 

    No. News media errors in reporting Wisconsin’s unofficial results did not affect the outcome of the election.

    Several people contacted the WEC about discrepancies they may have seen in unofficial results on media websites or TV broadcasts on Election Night. They believe that these reporting errors are evidence that vote totals were somehow changed or flipped, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Wisconsin does not have a statewide system for reporting unofficial results on Election Night, and there is no central official website or feed where results are reported.  State law requires that counties post the unofficial election night numbers for each polling place.  The unofficial statewide and county results numbers that the public sees on Election Night and the days thereafter come from the news media, including the Associated Press, which collects them from the 72 county clerks’ websites.

    One false rumor that circulated after the election was that results were flipped in Rock County on Election Night, based on screenshots from FOXNews.com.  According to the Associated Press, there was an error that occurred in the way they gathered results from Rock County’s website which caused AP to transpose results for Joe Biden and Donald Trump. An AP correspondent noticed the error within a few minutes and corrected it, according to a statement from the newswire: 

    Patrick Maks, media relations manager for The Associated Press said, “There was a brief technical error in AP’s collection of the vote count in Rock County, Wisconsin, that was quickly corrected. AP has myriad checks and redundancies in place to ensure the integrity of the vote count reporting. We are confident in what we have delivered to customers.”

    The AP’s error in no way reflects any problem with how Rock County counted or posted unofficial results. The WEC has confirmed with Rock County that their unofficial results reporting was always accurate.

    There have been similar false claims about numbers on a CNN broadcast around 4 a.m. Wednesday when the city of Milwaukee’s absentee ballot results were added to ballots cast at the polls on Election Day.

    Voters should be extremely cautious about drawing any conclusions based on changes in numbers during Election Night reporting. News organizations do their best to report accurate results, but sometimes they make minor mistakes.  These errors have nothing to do with Wisconsin’s official results, which are triple checked at the municipal, county and state levels before they are certified.

    There have been unfounded allegations that the WEC violated the law by not removing approximately 232,000 voters from the registration list because they may have moved.  

    The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in April 2021 that Wisconsin law did not direct the Wisconsin Elections Commission to not remove voters from the registration list on the basis of a possible move.  Instead, statutes reserved that authority for local officials and the city, village, or town level.  The full text of the decision is available here: https://elections.wi.gov/sites/elections/files/2021-04/Supreme%20Court%20Decision%20Zignego%20v%20WEC.pdf

    The current process requires anyone who may have moved to affirm their address when receiving a ballot.  These voters have a watermark next to their name in the poll book and were asked to sign to affirm that they still live there.  Any voters who have moved were directed to register to vote, and provide proof of residence, before they can be issued a ballot.

    No. One of the stranger claims after the election was that legitimate ballots had been specially encoded by one of the political parties so any illegitimate ballots could be rejected.

    Wisconsin county clerks are responsible for printing ballots which are distributed to municipal clerks. The secrecy of your ballot is safe. Clerks do not print any watermarks or codes on them that would identify any voter or political party. Ballot anonymity is a requirement of the law, and what candidate a voter chose is not a part of their record.  The state of Wisconsin also does not track party affiliation.  Local election officials do not know voter’s party preference when issuing ballots.  

    No. Voters do not need to worry, their ballots were counted. Voting equipment in Wisconsin is tested at the local, state and federal level for all kinds of pens and other marking devices.  While we recommend that voters use the pen or marking device provided at their polling place or as instructed in their absentee ballot, the use of a felt-tip pen doesn’t invalidate a ballot.

    No.  Wisconsin law allows a person who is “indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity or is disabled for an indefinite period” to become a permanent absentee voter “by signing a statement to that effect.” This law has been on the books for more than 30 years.

    Being a permanent absentee voter means the clerk must send the voter an absentee ballot automatically for every election. If a permanent absentee voter fails to return a ballot, the clerk must send the voter a letter giving notice the voter will be removed from the permanent list within 30 days if the vote does not reapply.

    When the Legislature passed the Photo ID Law in 2011, it exempted permanent absentee voters from having to provide a copy of their photo ID to receive a ballot.  These voters are allowed a substitution under state law where their witness verifies their identity and certifies to that by signing the return envelope.  State law requires the witness to verify the name and address of the indefinitely confined voter “in lieu of providing proof of identification.” Wis Stats 6.87(4)(b)2.  

    The WEC did not encourage anyone to declare themselves indefinitely confined or to claim that status to avoid the photo ID law – it’s actually the opposite. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed with the WEC’s guidance about indefinitely confined voters – including that voters could not use it to get out of providing a photo ID.  The Court's opinion is attached below.

    Absolutely not.  In 2010, many Wisconsin clerks started using a new combined application/certificate for absentee ballots cast in their offices. They did this to reduce paperwork in response to more and more voters casting absentee ballots in the clerk’s office.

    Prior to 2010, people voting absentee in the clerk’s office had to fill out a paper form requesting a ballot, then had to fill out the certificate on the envelope.  This created extra paperwork and was time consuming.  Municipal clerks asked for help, so the Government Accountability Board did a statewide study of the issue and produced a report on early voting: https://elections.wi.gov/publications/reports/early-voting. One of the recommendations that came out of the report was simplifying the in-person absentee voting process by combining the application and certificate. Board staff then worked with local election officials to implement changes that would streamline the paperwork required during in-person absentee voting.

    The solution was to add several components to the existing certificate resulting in a combination Absentee Ballot Application/Absentee Ballot Certificate. The title of the certificate was changed to indicate that it also serves as an application for in-person absentee voters. A line was added (“I further certify that I requested this ballot.”) to make the document an application. A person voting in-person simply completes the voter information and sign the certification. The elector votes the ballot, seals the ballot in the envelope, and the municipal clerk or clerk staff signs as witness and provides his or her address. All in-person absentee voters are also required to provide their photo ID before receiving a ballot. 

    It is false to claim that there are no applications on file for these absentee ballots.

    State law does not authorize or require signature comparison as a part of the voting process or during any post-election recount or audit.  Instead, for security purposes, Wisconsin requires most absentee voters to show or provide a copy of their photo ID when requesting a ballot.

    As a part of the absentee ballot counting process, every absentee certificate envelope is checked to ensure the voter and witness signed the certificate.  However, nothing in Wisconsin law establishes a process for comparing those signatures, as there is not necessarily any original signature for them to be compared with.  Signature matching is a specialized field, and Wisconsin election officials have received no training or certification in signature matching.  For those reasons, conducting an audit of absentee voters’ signatures would be impractical and unwarranted.

    Absolutely not.  Twenty-eight reporting units using Dominion systems were randomly selected after the election and audited for the Presidential contest, and all the audits confirmed that the hand-counted paper ballots exactly matched the electronic results from the machines. 

    In the 15 Wisconsin counties that exclusively use Dominion ICE voting systems, President Trump received 100,903 more votes than Joe Biden did in 2020. In 2016, in those same counties, President Trump received 98,304 more votes than Hillary Clinton.  As a whole, President Trump did better in those 15 Dominion counties in 2020 than he did in 2016.  In 13 of those 15 counties in 2020, President Trump received the majority of votes. Door and Green counties voted for Biden by a combined margin of 974 votes.

    Yes and yes. Dominion voting systems are approved for use in Wisconsin, specifically the Dominion Voting ImageCast Evolution (ICE). Dominion the second largest voting equipment vendor in the state, and their systems are used in all or parts of these counties: Adams, Crawford, Door, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Juneau, Oconto, Oneida, Ozaukee, Price, Racine, Rusk, Sawyer, Trempealeau, Vilas, Walworth, Washington, Waupaca, and Winnebago. President Trump won most of those counties by sizeable margins.

    Before determining the winner of the presidential election and certifying the results of other state elections, the Wisconsin Elections Commission and local election officials completed a full hand-count audit of 5% of voting equipment used throughout the state, including 28 reporting units that use Dominion ICE voting equipment.  These reporting units were publicly selected at random the day after the election, and clerks in those jurisdictions were ordered to hand count all the ballots twice to determine whether the equipment had counted the ballots accurately. No problems were identified in the way that votes were counted for the office of President.  Read the full audit report here.

    The claims made about Dominion have not been substantiated. Attorney General William Barr said recently: “There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that.” https://apnews.com/article/barr-no-widespread-election-fraud-b1f1488796c9a98c4b1a9061a6c7f49d

    The city of Milwaukee is one of 39 municipalities in Wisconsin which count their voters’ absentee ballots at a central location.  This is permitted by state law.  Because several municipalities could not finish processing their absentee ballots by the time the polls closed at 8 p.m. on Election Day, there was a delay in reporting those results to county clerks.  This was especially true in larger cities including Milwaukee, Green Bay and Kenosha, where final unofficial results were reported after 3 a.m. Wednesday.

    This does not mean something went wrong – it means election officials did their jobs and made sure every valid ballot was counted.  All central count locations were open to the public and the media, and some municipalities including Milwaukee and Green Bay took extra steps to provide the public and the media with live webcams of the absentee tabulation. Representatives of both major political parties were present, as well as independent poll watchers.

    Despite this transparency, there have been unfounded allegations that clerks and poll workers stopped counting, that they mysteriously found absentee ballots in the middle of the night, or that all the votes on absentee ballots were only for one candidate. It’s just not true.

    The numbers bear this out. In 2016, President Trump received 1,405,284 votes and won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes over Hillary Clinton, who received 1,382,536. In 2020, President Trump received 1,610,065 votes and lost by 20,682 votes to Joe Biden, who received 1,630,673.  

    In the city of Milwaukee, turnout was virtually the same.  In 2016, there were 246,617 votes cast for president and in 2020 there were 246,956, an increase of 339 votes.  That is a very small increase, especially considering all the effort that Democratic groups put into increasing turnout in Milwaukee.

    In 2016, the city of Milwaukee voted 45,422 for Trump and 188,700 for Clinton.  In 2020, the city of Milwaukee voted 48,414 for Trump and 194,661 for Biden. 

    In 2020, President Trump received 6.5% more votes in the city of Milwaukee than he did in 2016.  Biden received 3.1% more votes in 2020 than Clinton received in 2016. 

    There were two significant differences in 2016 and 2020.  The first was the numbers of votes received by third party, independent and write-in candidates for president.  In 2016 there were 12,495 votes for other candidates, compared to 3,575 votes for other candidates in 2020.  This is generally true across the state.

    The second difference between the years is in the method voters used to cast their ballots.  In 2016, there were approximately 61,000 absentee ballots counted in the city of Milwaukee. In 2020, there were 169,583 absentee ballots. The pandemic caused significantly higher numbers of voters across the state to vote by absentee ballot, and in larger cities which counted their absentee ballots at a central location, it took until early Wednesday for all the ballots to be counted and for unofficial results to be reported to the county clerks.  

    The Wisconsin Elections Commission anticipated there would be misinformation about late absentee ballot reports in central count municipalities.  To let the people and the media know what to expect about counting and reporting absentee ballot totals, the WEC put out news releases in advance of the election and even produced a video about how results get reported.

    See more videos about absentee voting here: https://elections.wi.gov/2020.

    If an absentee ballot is unfolded, that means the voter cast an absentee ballot in the clerk’s office on a piece of voting equipment known as the ES&S ExpressVote. The ExpressVote is a touch-screen ballot marking device (BMD) which prints the voter’s choices on a smaller paper ballot which does not need to be folded. ExpressVote ballots can be counted using the ES&S DS200 precinct scanner, just like regular sized paper ballots. ExpressVote BMDs are also used by people with disabilities to vote in person at polling places.

    The clerk or deputy clerk is required to initial the absentee ballot before issuing it to the voter, so it is natural that many of them all have the same set of initials. More info about initials in this FAQ.

    The initials some recount observers saw on ballots are municipal clerk’s employees, not voters. The clerk or deputy clerk is required to initial the absentee ballot before issuing it to the voter, so it is natural that many of them all have the same set of initials. 

    Unfortunately, recount observers did not understand what these initials were for, and they assumed it meant the same voter filled out and initialed all the ballots. Here are links to the state laws that require initials on ballots:


    5.54  Notice to electors. Every ballot, except a voting machine ballot, shall bear substantially the following information on the face: “NOTICE TO ELECTORS: This ballot may be invalid unless initialed by 2 election inspectors. If cast as an absentee ballot, the ballot must bear the initials of the municipal clerk or deputy clerk."


    6.87  Absent voting procedure.
    (1)  Upon proper request made within the period prescribed in s. 6.86, the municipal clerk or a deputy clerk authorized by the municipal clerk shall write on the official ballot, in the space for official endorsement, the clerk's initials and official title. 
    It is election fraud for a voter to sign or initial their own ballot.  Here is the law about election fraud:


    12.13  Election fraud.
    (1)  ELECTORS. Whoever intentionally does any of the following violates this chapter:
    (f) Shows his or her marked ballot to any person or places a mark upon the ballot so it is identifiable as his or her ballot.

    Clerks are not required by state law to contact voters who submit absentee ballots with signatures or addresses missing from the certificate, but the WEC and its predecessor agencies have long advised clerks to attempt to contact voters to correct these kinds of problems if they can before the election.

    In 2016, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law stating: “If a certificate is missing the address of a witness, the ballot may not be counted.” 

    After the law passed, many people became concerned that some voters were not aware of the requirement for a complete witness address. In October 2016, the WEC voted to advise clerks they could fix missing witness address components based on “reliable information.”  The motion to approve the guidance was made and seconded by Republican members of the Commission and it passed unanimously. Ultimately, there must be a witness address on the certificate in order for the ballot to be counted.  

    The guidance had been in effect for 11 statewide elections, including the 2016 presidential and presidential recount, and no one objected to it until just before the November 2020 election.

    The guidance was designed to ensure that voters would not be penalized if witnesses left off an element of their address, like the city. When the WEC communicated with clerks about the issue of how to handle absentee certificates with missing address information, it was simply reiterating its longstanding guidance.

    What are the positions at a polling place?

    There are four different positions that help conduct elections at a polling place.

    1. A poll worker, or election inspector, is someone who conducts duties at a polling place on Election Day. The poll worker can issue ballots to registered voters, registering voters, monitor the voting equipment, explain how to mark the ballot or use the voting equipment, and count votes. There are typically 3 to 7 election inspectors at a polling place with 1 chief inspector. There must always be an odd number of election inspectors.
    2. Each polling place is allowed up to one greeter. The greeter assists with answering questions and directing voters to the voting area. A greeter may become an election inspector on election day if there is an even number of poll workers to maintain an odd number.
    3. The municipal clerk or board of election commissioners may assign an election registration official (ERO) to a polling place to register voters. EROs do not count toward the number of election inspectors at a polling place.
    4. Lastly, the governing body or board of election commissioners of a municipality may pass a resolution to employ tabulators in an election. Tabulators assist at the polling place after it closes.

    What are the essential functions of becoming a poll worker?

    Under Wis. Stat. s. 7.30(2), election inspectors must be able to read and write the English language, be capable, and be of good understanding. However, there are many different duties that an individual can conduct at the polling place that do not require the ability to read or write the English language. These could include being a greeter, monitoring the voting equipment, or issuing ballots to registered voters.

    How do I get an accommodation to become a poll worker?

    Under ADA, all poll workers, including greeters and tabulators, are entitled to receive a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job if the accommodation does not create an undue hardship to the employer.  Therefore, many municipalities may be able to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals to become a poll worker. However, not every position may be able to be performed by every individual, so a reasonable accommodation could be reassignment to a different position.

    To get a reasonable accommodation, contact your municipal clerk. You may also contact the Wisconsin Elections Commission with any questions.

    What are examples of accommodations that are generally reasonable at a polling place?

    • Assignment to be a greeter.
    • Assignment to a specific task.
    • Providing a translator.
    • Providing an aid to assist with assigned tasks.
    • Providing extra breaks.
    • Allowing flexible work hours.
    • Providing equipment to improve accessibility, such as a chair or magnifying glass.


    An accommodation would not be reasonable if the individual is unable to perform the essential functions of the job or if the accommodation causes undue hardship for the municipality. These determinations are decided by each municipality, but the Wisconsin Elections Commission can work with a clerk to identify accommodation options or eliminate barriers to providing an accommodation.

    Municipal clerks deliver all ballots, statements, tally sheets, lists and envelopes, excluding any absentee ballots received after closing hour on election night and any provisional ballots, related to any county, school district or special purpose district election to the appropriate clerks by 4:00 p.m. on the day following each such election. The municipal clerk shall deliver to the county clerk any additional provisional and absentee ballots canvassed late together with amended statements, tally sheets, lists, and envelopes no later than 4 p.m. on the Monday following the election.  Wis. Stat. § 7.51(5)(b).

    Election inspectors are not required under 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 to compare the signature to any other record.  Voters should be directed to sign using their normal signature as they would sign any other official document and election inspectors should indicate the line number on which the voter is to sign.  The law does not require voter signatures to be legible. 

    If the voter refuses to sign the poll list, a ballot shall not be issued. 

    However, electors who have a disability that prevents them from physically being able to sign the poll list are exempt from this provision.  If another person signed the voter’s registration form because the voter was unable to sign due to disability, the election inspector writes the word “exempt” on the signature line.  If the voter is already registered but the voter claims to be unable to sign due to physical disability, and both inspectors concur, the inspectors shall enter the words “exempt by order of inspectors” on the signature line.  If both inspectors do not waive the signature requirement, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot and the inspector or inspectors who did not waive the requirement shall challenge the ballot.

    University and college students may use their student photo ID in conjunction with a fee payment receipt that contains the student’s residential address dated no earlier than nine months before the election.  University and college students may also use their student photo ID if the university or college has provided a certified list to the municipal clerk of students, containing the students’ residential addresses and indicating which students are U.S. citizens.

    The progression is as follows:

    Voter who possesses a WI driver license or WI DOT issued ID:

    •    If it is current and valid (not revoked, suspended or expired)

    o        Voter must provide the license number
    o        If they cannot or won’t provide the number, they can register and vote provisionally

    •    If driver license is revoked, suspended or expired 

    o        Voter must provide the last 4 digits of their Social Security number (SS#)
    o        They may also provide the number on their license or ID (optional)

    Voter who does not possess a WI driver license

    •    Voter must provide the last 4 digits of their SS#

    o        If the voter cannot provide the last 4 digits of their SS#, they may not register or vote

    Voter who possesses neither a WI driver license nor a state ID nor an SS#

    •    Checks in the box indicating they have no WI driver license/state ID nor SS#

    The Wisconsin Elections Commission has published two recall manuals (for Congressional, County, and State Officials; for Local Officials) explaining the process of recalling an elected official. Please consult these publications for answers about how to initiate a recall, deadlines for recall petitions to be circulated, and timelines for review and scheduling of recall elections.


    If a municipality has only three election inspectors available to work at an election, and all represent the same political party, does it matter during a nonpartisan election?

    The type of election is not the issue.  If lists of election inspector nominees are provided by the county parties, and appointments are made with regard to political affiliation, one of the inspectors will have to agree to represent the other party at that election.

    Any municipality may, by resolution, reduce the number of election officials to no less than three.  S. 7.32, Wis. Stats.  Rather than create a resolution prior to each election, a resolution may be worded so that the municipal clerk is able to make the decision with respect to number of inspectors to be used at a particular election.  S. 7.32, Wis. Stats.

    Remember:  If a polling place utilizes only three inspectors, and one inspector must leave the voting area, voting stops until the inspector returns.  The clerk may want to provide for an alternate who can replace inspectors for lunch or other breaks.  A municipal ordinance that provides for the use of alternate inspectors is required.  S. 7.30(1), Wis. Stats.  2/11/2003

    Wisconsin law requires every employer to grant an unpaid leave of absence to each employee who is appointed to serve as an election official, if the employee who serves as an election official provides his or her employer with at least seven days' notice.  The leave is for the entire 24-hour period of each election day in which the employee serves in his or her official capacity as an election official.   Upon request of any employer municipal clerks must verify appointments.

    To be an election inspector (poll worker), a person must:

    • Be a qualified elector of the county in which the polling place is established  (i.e., an adult citizen of the United States who has resided in the election district for 28 consecutive days and is not otherwise disqualified to vote);
    • Be able to speak, read, and write fluently in the English language;
    • Have strong clerical skills;
    • Be able to solve problems;
    • Be an effective communicator; and
    • NOT be a candidate for any office to be voted on at the polling place at that election.

    Municipal clerks are required by state law to provide training. This training provides all of the necessary information and knowledge to be a successful poll worker.  (Many municipalities require poll workers to attend a comprehensive training course prior to each Primary election.)  

    An experienced chief inspector who has been certified by the State Elections Board must be present at each polling place for each election.   Chief inspectors must receive six hours of continuing election education training during each two-year period.

    Election Inspectors (poll workers) conduct assigned duties at a polling site on Election Day.  Duties can include issuing ballots to registered voters, registering voters, monitoring the voting equipment, explaining how to mark the ballot or use the voting equipment or counting votes.

    The chief inspector is in charge of keeping order at the polling place.  If a person is interfering with the orderly conduct of the election, the chief inspector may ask that person to leave the polling place.  If the person refuses, the inspectors may seek assistance from the municipal clerk.  If the municipal clerk cannot be contacted, or if the person refuses an order by the municipal clerk, law enforcement may be called.  3/24/2003

    On election day, the polling place is under the control of the election inspectors.  The clerk is an election administrator and has other duties on election day outside of the polling place.  Therefore, the Government Accountability Board does not advise that a municipal clerk serve as an election inspector.  If the municipal clerk must serve as an inspector, he or she must be appointed an an inspector and may not be a candidate at the election.  3/24/2003

    The municipal clerk is an election administrator and, as such, should be available to the election inspectors on election day for advice, supplies, etc.  In addition, there are circumstances where a hospitalized elector or sequestered juror may request an absentee ballot from the clerk on election day.  Therefore, if the clerk is unable to be available on election day, a deputy should be appointed to act in the clerk's absence.  3/24/2003

    You have the right to file a complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.  However, most people are able to resolve their complaints informally.  We suggest you may want to follow the steps below as a starting point to resolve your concern.

    Call or write your municipal (i.e., city, village or town) clerk’s office to let them know about the problem. The clerk’s office may be able to resolve your concern right away. Find your municipal clerk under Directory of Wisconsin Clerks on this web site.

    Contact other employees who work for your city, town or village to see if they can help you.

    If you still have problems, you can call the Wisconsin Elections Commission at (608)266-8005 or email us at elections.wi.gov.

    If your complaint is still not resolved, you can file a formal, verified  complaint with the WEC. The WEC web site contains a complete guide for filing a formal complaint.

    If the WEC is unable to resolve the formal complaint to your satisfaction, you may have the option of filing a complaint under certain laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if they apply to your situation.

    Organizations that advocate for persons with disabilities such as Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) may be able to assist you in resolving your complaint if it is related to a disability.  To reach DRW’s Voting Rights Line, call 800/928-8778 (voice) or 888/758-6049 (TTY).

    Wisconsin law provides that whenever any person believes that a violation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) has occurred, is occurring, or is proposed to occur with respect to an election for national office in this state, that person may file a written, verified complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.


    A verified (or sworn) complaint is a written challenge, sworn to before a person authorized to administer oaths.  The complaint must set forth facts within the knowledge of the complainant (the individual filing the complaint) to show probable cause to believe that a violation of law or abuse of discretion has occurred or will occur.  The complaint may be accompanied by relevant supporting documents.  This process can be found on the WEC web site.


    If you have witnessed efforts to commit any kind of fraud or corruption in the voting process, you may report this to local law enforcement officials such as your sheriff’s or police department.   You may also report this to the District Attorney in your county.

    You may report this to federal law enforcement officials at:

    United States Attorney's Offices
    Eastern District of Wisconsin:  414-297-1700  
    Western District of Wisconsin:  608-264-5158

    If you have questions or concerns about the voting process, including polling place accessibility or accessible voting equipment, you may contact your municipal clerk.

    You can check the Directory of Wisconsin Municipal Clerks on this website to find contact information for your municipal clerk. This listing contains telephone and fax numbers as well as addresses.

    You may also use our online complaint form contact the Wisconsin Elections Commission at 608-266-8005, or e-mail: @email.

    When there are municipal offices or referenda on the ballot: 

    One option is for at least three inspectors (preferably all inspectors ) to accompany the ballots to the central count.  When the municipality's ballots are counted, the inspectors sign the municipal board of canvassers statement, and deliver the completed document to the municipal clerk. 

    The second option is for the clerk* or two inspectors to deliver the ballots to the central count.  At least three inspectors (preferably all inspectors) acting as the municipal board of canvassers meet the following morning to sign the municipal canvass, which includes the tabular statement, summary and certification. 

    When there are no municipal offices or referenda on the ballot: 

    Either two election inspectors or the municipal clerk* deliver the ballots to the central count location. 

    *It’s a good idea for the municipal clerk not to deliver ballots to the central count if the clerk is a candidate at the election.

    5.85(5), 7.51, and 7.53, Wis. Stats.

    The presence of a candidate at a location where ballots are given to voters may give the appearance of electioneering. During hours when ballots may be cast, Wis. Stat. § 12.03 prohibits electioneering at polling places, in-person absentee voting sites, and locations where special voting deputies are present. It also prevents electioneering on public property within 100 feet of an entrance to one of these locations. Electioneering is defined by the statute as “any activity which is intended to influence voting at an election.” Additionally, while most individuals may observe voting at polling places and in-person absentee voting sites, any candidate whose name appears on a ballot at one of those locations is not extended that right under Wis. Stat. § 7.41(1). For these reasons, the Wisconsin Elections Commission recommends that a candidate only be present at one of these locations in order to vote, and to leave as soon as the candidate has finished voting. 

    The County Board of Canvassers, the Municipal Board of Canvassers, and the School District Board of Canvassers always consist of 3 persons:  Boards of Canvassers are comprised as follows:

    • County Board of Canvassers:  The County Clerk and two qualified electors of the county appointed by the clerk. 

    • School District Board of Canvassers:  The School District Clerk and 2 qualified electors of the school district appointed by the clerk.

    • Municipal Board of Canvassers:  If the municipality has one ward or one set of results, the canvass shall be conducted publicly, and the election inspectors shall act as the municipal board of canvassers. Ss. 5.15(6)(b), 7.51, and 7.53(1), Wis. Stats. A separate board of canvassers, comprised of the municipal clerk and 2 other qualified electors appointed by the clerk, is required when the municipality has more than 1 reporting unit or more than 1 set of results.  The municipal board of canvassers must start the municipal canvass by 9am the Monday following the election. Wis. Stat. §7.53.

    If the municipality has one ward or one set of results, the canvass shall be conducted publicly, and the election inspectors shall act as the municipal board of canvassers. Ss. 5.15(6)(b), 7.51, and 7.53(1), Wis. Stats.

    A separate board of canvassers, comprised of the municipal clerk and two other qualified electors appointed by the clerk, is required when the municipality has more than one reporting unit or more than one set of results.  The municipal board of canvassers must start the municipal canvass by 9am the Monday following the election. Wis. Stat. §7.53.

    In a nonpartisan (Spring) election, the order in which candidates names appear on the ballot is determined by the drawing of lots, or by any method that is by chance.  S. 5.60(1)(b), Wis. Stats.  3/24/2003

    In a partisan primary, the order in which candidates of one party's names appear is also determined by lot.

    At a partisan General Election (such as for Governor or President) the ballot order is determined by which political party's candidate received the most votes at the last General Election. For example, Governor Walker received the most votes in the 2010 General Election, so Republican candidates were first on the 2012 General Election ballot. In 2012, President Obama received the most votes, so Democratic candidates are first on the 2014 General Election ballot.

    The ballot order for independent candidates is determined by lot.

    Once a candidate qualifies for ballot status, her name appears on the ballot. The candidate cannot withdraw and have her name removed. Only in case of death of the candidate can the name be removed from the ballot. S. 8.35, Wis. Stats.

    The candidate can make a statement to notice the electors that she no longer wishes to seek the office by election, but her name will appear on the ballot. Should the candidate win the election, she may decline to hold the office. This creates a vacancy that is filled following the provisions of Ch. 17.  3/12/2003

    Yes.  A Power of Attorney can request an absentee ballot for an elector.  No person (not even a POA) may "vote" a ballot for another elector.  If the elector requires assistance in completing the ballot, the elector may designate another person to assist the elector in marking the ballot.*  In the presence of the elector, the ballot is marked according to the elector's direction.  The assisting elector must sign their name on the ballot under the section entitled "Signature of Assisting Individual."

    *The assisting elector cannot be the elector's employer or an agent of that employer or an officer or agent of a labor organization which represents the elector.  S. 6.82(2)(a), Wis. Stats.  3/12/2003

    Yes. Along with meeting all the usual requirements, voters who vote by absentee ballot must follow special rules in completing and signing the certificate on the ballot envelope, and having the certificate witnessed.

    If any of these rules aren't followed, election officials at the polling place must reject the absentee ballot.  These rules replace the safeguards normally present when a voter appears in person at the polling place.

    If the request is made by mail by a regular voter, it must be in the office of the municipal clerk no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday preceding an election. 

    If the request is a calendar year request, it can be made until 5:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election.

    If the request is made in-person, the deadline is the last day that the clerk is offering in-person absentee voting.

    Special provisions are made for hospitalized electors and sequestered jurors to request and vote by absentee ballot on election day.

    The absentee ballot request is made to the municipal clerk in writing using the Application For Absentee Ballot (EL-121) or by letter or email to your municipal clerk requesting an absentee ballot which provides substantially the same information required on the application form.


    You can find your municipal clerk on the MyVote Wisconsin website: myvote.wi.gov by searching for your voter record or performing an address search.


    You will need to provide a copy of your acceptable photo ID with your absentee ballot request.More information about the photo ID requirement can be found at www.bringit.wi.gov.


    Any qualified elector who registers to vote. (A qualified elector is a United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided in the district in which he or she intends to vote for at least 28 days.)

    Not all voters can get to the polling place on election day. An absentee ballot is the printed ballot marked by an absent voter, sealed in a special envelope, and given or mailed to the municipal clerk. The municipal clerk ensures that each absentee ballot that is returned in a timely manner gets to the right polling place on election day. If accepted, the absentee ballot is counted as if the voter had cast the ballot in person.