Wisconsin

Snapshot: Wisconsin has a middling score for ease of voting, meeting five out of seven benchmarks, and for ballot counting efficiency and security, meeting four out of eight benchmarks. But there are red flags among how the state’s elected officials responded to Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election.

Ease of Voting

Some measures to expand access
5 out of 7 benchmarks

Ballot Security

Some measures to ensure accuracy and security
4 out of 8 benchmarks

What Politicians Say

Several responses that undermined the 2020 election
2 out of 4 benchmarks

Wisconsin was a primary target for Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. It was one of four states named in a Texas lawsuit seeking to have the Supreme Court intervene, and the subject of several other state and federal lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies.

The Trump campaign paid for recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties and both reaffirmed Biden’s win. Both a 168-page report from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau and a 10-month investigation from the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Still, Republican state lawmakers launched a partisan probe of the election led by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. They have also targeted the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, passing a resolution condemning its handling of the 2020 election and bills that would change how it’s run.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who has vetoed Republican elections bills, is running for re-election. The state will hold a primary on Aug. 9 to determine his Republican opponent.


Ease of Voting

Is the state making it easy for eligible voters to register and cast a ballot?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Wisconsin compares to other states
Wisconsin
Other states
← Easier to vote
Harder →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

Many of the Republican state bills to change elections appear to be inspired by claims about the 2020 election.

One bill vetoed by Evers targeted people who request a mail-in ballot because they are confined to their homes because of age, illness or disability.

Lawmakers who felt that process was abused during the coronavirus pandemic passed legislation that would have required those voters to provide photo ID, limited how long they could automatically receive mail-in ballots and made it a felony to falsely claim to be confined to your home in order to vote by mail.

Disability rights advocates argued that the changes would make it harder for the elderly and people with disabilities to cast a ballot.

Other bills vetoed by Evers would have limited ballot drop boxes to a single site, barred the Wisconsin Elections Commission from sending absentee ballots or applications to voters without a request and made it a felony for staff at nursing homes or assisted living centers to influence a resident’s vote.


Ballot Security

Is the state following best practices to ensure ballot counting is accurate and timely?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Wisconsin compares to other states
Wisconsin
Other states
← More secure
Less secure →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

One bill vetoed by Evers would have changed the state’s process for handling mail-in ballots with minor errors.

Currently, local elections administrators will make minor corrections to a ballot envelope, such as adding the ZIP code to the otherwise complete address of a witness.

Under the vetoed legislation, clerks would be barred from making those corrections, and a notice would be posted on a state website to allow the voter to make the correction so that their ballot can be counted.

In a veto message, Evers noted that this would increase the number of ballots that might be rejected, which he argued would be more likely to affect voters in larger urban areas who would be less likely to receive a phone call about their ballot problem.

The state Supreme Court recently sided with a conservative advocacy group, ruling that unmonitored ballot drop boxes are not allowed and that voters cannot have someone else return their completed ballot.


How Politicians Responded to the 2020 Election

What did the state do in the aftermath of Trump's defeat?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Wisconsin compares to other states
Wisconsin
Other states
← Fewer efforts to undermine 2020 election
More →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission has become a key target of Republican state lawmakers, who criticize its handling of the 2020 election.

Evers vetoed a bill that would have allowed the legislature to withhold funding and cut jobs from the commission if lawmakers disagreed with its decisions, and another bill that would have let lawmakers name partisan attorneys to advise the board.

Some have gone even further. The Racine County sheriff recommended criminal charges against board members for a decision on how residents of nursing homes could vote during the pandemic, but a local prosecutor said that she did not have jurisdiction.

Read More: US Election Officials Face Their Biggest Threat Yet — Jail Time

Some Republican candidates for statewide office have proposed eliminating the elections commission and restoring oversight of elections to the secretary of state, a partisan position currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette, who is running for re-election this year.

On Jan. 6, two of the state’s five Republican US representatives objected to certification of Biden electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania, and one signed an amicus brief supporting the Texas lawsuit before the Supreme Court.

A top aide to US Senator Ron Johnson attempted to arrange for him to hand off fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin to Vice President Mike Pence just before the electoral count, according to testimony before the Jan. 6 select committee on the Jan. 6 attacks.

Johnson also intended to object to Biden electors but changed his mind after the attacks.


Read the full methodology
Story by: Ryan Teague Beckwith and Bill Allison
Graphics by: Paul Murray, Allison McCartney and Mira Rojanasakul
With assistance by: Rachael Dottle, Marie Patino, Jenny Zhang, Gregory Korte, Romy Varghese, Vincent Del Giudice, Nathan Crooks, Margaret Newkirk, Shruti Date Singh, David Welch, Elise Young, Dina Bass, Brendan Walsh, Carey Goldberg and Maria Wood
Editors: Wendy Benjaminson, Wes Kosova, Alex Tribou and Yue Qiu
Photo editors: Eugene Reznik, Marisa Gertz and Maria Wood
Photo credits: Getty Images, Bloomberg and AP Photo