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Wisconsin's Electoral Process: A Closer Look at Mail-In Ballots, Voting Machines, and Fake News

Exploring the measures Wisconsin has implemented to ensure secure and accurate elections

Voting location in Wisconsin

The integrity of the electoral process is a critical component of any democracy. In Wisconsin, like many other states, questions about the security of mail-in ballots, the accuracy of voting machines, and the presence of false information online have raised concerns about the legitimacy of elections. However, Wisconsin has implemented several measures to ensure secure and accurate elections, including safeguards for absentee voting, regular updates of voter rolls, and logic and accuracy testing of voting machines. We explore some of the most common questions and concerns about elections in Wisconsin and provide information to help readers make informed decisions about the accuracy and security of the electoral process.


Are mail-in ballots prone to fraud?

Wisconsin's mail-in voting system is designed with several safety measures to ensure secure and fair elections. To receive a mail-in ballot, registered voters must first apply and be verified by their local county election officials. Mail-in ballots must also include a witness statement to confirm that the voter filled out their own ballot.


In the event that a voter who requested a mail-in ballot decides to vote in person instead, they must destroy their absentee ballot or request that the clerk's office cancels it. Clerks keep track of every ballot handed out in Wisconsin and use a database to ensure that voters only vote once. If a voter who requested a mail-in ballot also votes in person, their in-person ballot is set aside as a provisional ballot until local election workers confirm that they did not vote by mail. These measures are in place to maintain the integrity and security of Wisconsin's elections.


Are dead people on the voter rolls? How are they kept up to date?

Wisconsin takes voter registration maintenance seriously by requiring election officials to regularly update the voter rolls and remove deceased individuals from the list. If a voter passes away after casting their early vote, their ballot is not counted.


Local election officials ensure the accuracy of the voter rolls by conducting routine checks to see if voters have moved, passed away, or are ineligible to vote due to criminal convictions. Election officials also send mail to inactive voters to confirm their current residence and desire to remain registered. Furthermore, Wisconsin is a member of ERIC, which provides election officials with information about voters who have moved or died. This electronic system assists in cross-checking Wisconsin data with other states to ensure that voter rolls are up-to-date and accurate.


Are voting machines secure? Can votes be deleted or switched?

Wisconsin has implemented secure voting systems, with paper ballots and regular logic and accuracy testing of voting machines required by state law. Voting systems in the state are not connected to the internet, ensuring that the machine count can always be verified. The state also uses systems certified by the federal government and further certified to operate in compliance with state law requirements.


Audits of voting equipment used in the 2020 and 2022 elections found no evidence of any equipment changing votes, incorrectly tabulating votes, or altering vote totals in any way. The 2022 audit found an effective error rate of 0.0%, as determined by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. These measures provide assurance that the voting systems in Wisconsin are secure and accurate.


Will we know the results on election night? Why would vote totals change after Election Day?

It is common for vote totals to change over several days as bipartisan teams of election workers validate, tally, double-check, and update the numbers. Local election workers carefully count and validate each vote before including it in the official tally, which can be a time-consuming process. Typically, the first votes to be counted and reported are from individuals who voted in person on the morning and afternoon of Election Day. Mail-in votes, on the other hand, take longer to add to vote tallies, as Wisconsin law prohibits mail-in ballots from being counted until Election Day.


As a result, it is normal for not all election results to be known on election night.


Are there problems with the system for requesting an absentee ballot?

In 2020, Wisconsin made efforts to improve the security of absentee voting, including the implementation of a new absentee ballot tracking system called MyVote Wisconsin. This system was widely used by over 1.5 million voters in the state. Wisconsin also has safeguards in place to prevent illegal absentee voting.


A government review conducted in September 2022 found only one instance of a fraudulent request for an absentee ballot, which is currently being prosecuted. These measures demonstrate Wisconsin's commitment to ensuring the integrity of the absentee voting process.


Why is false information spreading about elections in WI?

False information about elections in Wisconsin can come from a variety of sources, both unintentional and deliberate. Some individuals spread misinformation to make a profit or gain media attention, while others refuse to accept their electoral defeat. In some cases, foreign governments aim to undermine trust in democratic systems and damage the country. Additionally, some individuals spread false information to justify passing new laws that restrict voting or make it easier to overturn election results, all for their political gain. It is crucial to critically evaluate information online and seek out trusted sources to distinguish fact from fiction.


How can I tell good information from bad information online?

It's common for individuals to share misinformation without verifying its accuracy beforehand. Misinformation about voting and elections can be particularly challenging to identify. When evaluating a story or claim, consider if it seems plausible, if the source is reputable, if it evokes a strong emotional response, and if it includes a request for money. If any of these factors raise suspicion, it may be beneficial to seek out a reliable source for additional information.


Was there fraud in the 2020 election? How about the 2022 election?

Numerous investigations and court cases have found no evidence of fraud that would have affected the outcome of the 2020 election. The Trump administration's own Department of Justice investigated and found no evidence of widespread fraud. Additionally, a non-partisan review of the 2020 election in Wisconsin revealed accurate results and no widespread fraud. Similarly, a recent audit of Wisconsin's voting machines for the 2022 midterms found that they counted ballots accurately, which was unanimously signed off by the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. These findings should give confidence to the people of Wisconsin that their elections are safe and secure.


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