The Wisconsin Elections Commission takes any allegation of election misconduct seriously, whether it is by candidates, voters, political parties, or other groups seeking to influence the outcome of elections.
Many areas of illegal election activity, however, are under the authority of local law enforcement, including police and district attorneys. In those cases, the Commission and its staff stand ready to assist in the investigation of election complaints.
As part of its mission to ensure the integrity of individual ballots as well as election results in Wisconsin, the Commission continues its commitment to working with municipal and county election officials and local and statewide law enforcement agencies to prevent errors and opportunities for voter fraud and to detect and prosecute cases of illegal voting which may occur.
While empirical evidence made available to the Commission has not documented any widespread, organized, or systemic cases of voting by ineligible individuals or of double voting in Wisconsin, the Commission has consistently maintained that evidence of any case will be thoroughly investigated and, if the evidence merits it, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Commission staff conducted a survey of the counties’ prosecuting attorney offices four months after the 2008 General and Presidential Election. The survey results revealed that a total of six criminal complaints had been filed alleging voter fraud.
Since then, Wisconsin has enacted a voter ID law in 2011 requiring electors to present an acceptable photo ID before receiving a ballot. Following a series of court challenges that delayed implementation, the law has been found to be constitutional, and has been in force since mid-April, 2015.
The Commission recognizes the importance of implementing a comprehensive system that discourages individuals from voting illegally and assists in the detection and prosecution of illegal voting cases. To that end, the Commission will continue to pursue and research the following election administration business practices:
1. Educate and train local election officials, local and statewide law enforcement, and the public regarding voter qualifications including age, residency, and citizenship.
2. Educate and train local election officials, local and statewide law enforcement, and the public regarding methods of detecting ineligible voters; and the process of referring and monitoring the prosecution of voter fraud and other illegal voting cases.
3. Encourage and ensure the ability of the public to act as election observers and administer an orderly process for challenging the registration or vote of any elector.
4. Notify the former state when a new resident registers to vote in Wisconsin, and conduct comprehensive comparisons of Wisconsin’s statewide voter registration system (WisVote) database with statewide voter lists of neighboring states in detecting duplicate registrations.
5. Regularly audit records related to convicted felons, adjudicated incompetents, deceased persons, and voters who attempt to register or vote in multiple locations and match those records against the WisVote, as well as provide to local election officials, lists of convicted felons whose voting rights have not been restored.
6. Mail postcards to verify addresses of voters who register by mail, through a special registration deputy, or on Election Day at the polling place; and forward information to local prosecuting attorneys when fraud, or an error leading to illegal voting, is suspected.
7. Continue to proactively work with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, District Attorneys, and federal and local law enforcement to share information identified by the agency staff or received by the agency that implicates a violation of Chapter 12, Wis. Stats.
8. Assist law enforcement and prosecutors in specific election fraud and illegal voting cases by providing and interpreting information contained in the WisVote related to an individual’s voting history and method of registration, as well as data related to special registration deputies and voters registered through that process.
9. Maintain the MyVote web site which allows law enforcement and the public to obtain information regarding any registered voter for which a date of birth is known.
Through the Commission’s public education and information strategies, the Commission will improve these ongoing outreach efforts to prevent errors, deter potential voter fraud and assure the State’s residents that all reasonable and practical steps are being taken to maintain the high level of voter confidence and election integrity for which Wisconsin is known.