Election officials in Wisconsin referred more than 40 instances of suspected voter fraud to prosecutors since August—a tiny fraction of votes cast in the fall and spring, according to a draft report released Monday.
More than half the cases occurred in La Crosse, where election officials found 22 people had registered to vote using the address of a UPS Store instead of their homes.
In all, the state Elections Commission identified 41 instances in which municipal clerks alerted district attorneys they suspected voter fraud. They included cases of felons voting, people voting twice and people voting in the wrong municipality.
The 41 cases represent a vanishingly small fraction of a percent of ballots cast in elections since August. About 3.3 million Wisconsinites voted in November alone.
“Election officials and law enforcement across Wisconsin work together proactively to prevent, identify and prosecute suspected cases of voter fraud,” said a statement from Meagan Wolfe, the director of the Elections Commission. “As we report these statistics to the Legislature, we want the public to understand that we take these matters seriously.”
The commission’s draft report identifies cases that have been turned over to district attorneys but not what happened after that.
The findings were in line with an Associated Press report from Friday that found about two dozen suspected fraud cases stemmed from the November election. No charges have yet been filed, according to AP.
La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Grueneke said he was looking into what happened in La Crosse. Some of the problems might have already been resolved by clerks or law enforcement officials, he said by email.
Wisconsin allows residents to register to vote through an online portal, but to register that way people must use the address that is on their driver’s license or state identification card.
People can use a UPS Store or other commercial address for their driver’s license. However, they can’t use such an address for their voter registration. Some people in La Crosse appear to have done that, according to Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Elections Commission.
In Brookfield, a woman is suspected of voting in 10 elections since 2017 even though she had dementia and been deemed incompetent for the purpose of voting, according to Magney.
Waukesha County District Attorney Susan Opper did not immediately respond Monday to questions about the incident.
Separately, the commission issued a draft report Monday that showed district attorneys had been alerted to 10 cases since early 2020 in which felons are suspected of having voted. Wisconsin law bars someone from voting while they are serving a sentence for a felony, including their time on probation or extended supervision.
Other cases of possible felon voting are being investigated, Magney said.
The commission, which consists of three Republicans and three Democrats, will review the draft reports at a June 2 meeting.
Democratic state Rep. Mark Spreitzer of Beloit said the findings show voter fraud is rare and is flagged when it is suspected.
“There is not a systemic security problem,” said Spreitzer, who sits on the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee. “I think we can have a high degree of confidence in our elections that the will of the electorate prevails.”
Republican Rep. Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin said he is focused on the actions of election officials, not voters.
Sanfelippo, who also sits on the Assembly elections committee, accused the Elections Commission of violating a law that requires sending poll workers known as special voting deputies to nursing homes to assist with voting. The commission advised clerks not to send the voting deputies to those facilities and instead send residents absentee ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They clearly do not have the authority to circumvent state statute,” Sanfelippo said of the commissioners who voted for that guidance.
“They should not be on the board,” he added. “I don’t care if they’re Democratic appointees or Republican appointees.”
All six commissioners voted not to send deputies to nursing homes for the spring 2020 election. Five of the six voted to keep that policy in place in the fall, with Republican Commissioner Bob Spindell dissenting.
Asked how he could get members off the commission, Sanfelippo said, “I’m working on it.”
Ann Jacobs, the chairwoman of the commission and a Democrat, noted state law does not spell out what the state is supposed to do when nursing homes won’t allow visitors for health reasons.
“I think that the commission acted unanimously in the interest of Wisconsin voters to ensure our vulnerable nursing home residents were able to safely and legally exercise their right to vote,” she said.