FAQ

    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.
     

    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:

    https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/5/ii/54 

    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."

    https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/6/iv/87 

    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:

    https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/12/13 

    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.
     

    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. 

    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.