Wisconsin Voter Roll Contains 350,000 Errors, Watchdog Group Alleges

Wisconsin Voter Roll Contains 350,000 Errors, Watchdog Group Alleges
A election worker handles ballots in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 20, 2020. (Andy Manis/Getty Images)
Steven Kovac

More than 350,000 informational data points on Wisconsin’s state voter roll are alleged to be inaccurate, according to a citizen activist.

Justin Gavery is one of about 500 volunteers who banded together nearly two years ago to work to improve voter confidence in Wisconsin elections. Cleaning up sloppy voter registration information is one of the group’s stated priorities.

Computer experts from the group produced a presentation on the state’s 72 counties. For illustration, they focused on information from Dane and Milwaukee counties as representative of what is going on across the state.

In Dane and Milwaukee counties, the group claims to have discovered 60,000 issues they say warrant either an explanation or correction.

The data show that in Milwaukee County, 12,555 registered voters' addresses are listed as vacant by the U.S. Postal Service.

The group’s analysis states that nearly 29,000 people in the two counties who filled out U.S. Postal Service change of address forms, saying they moved out of state, are still on the active voter list years later.

The group found 22,500 address errors in the two counties. The mistakes included missing and invalid numbers and major apartment complexes with only a main address and partial apartment numbers or none at all.

The group also found nearly 1,000 voter registrations on the Milwaukee County voter roll that appear to be duplicates.

“Both people are listed on the active voter roll with two different voter ID numbers. Some of these might be father and son that did not use the Sr. and Jr. designations,” Peter Bernegger, a cyber expert, told The Epoch Times.

Another issue the group discovered with the lists is that 48 people in Milwaukee County and 28 people in Dane County registered to vote years ago, some as long as 30 years ago, yet they remain on the active voter list even though they have never voted.

“There are thousands of these statewide,” Bernegger said.

The group’s analysis also found that dozens of voters in Milwaukee and Dane counties have used commercial buildings, UPS storefronts, and U.S. post office boxes as their address in violation of Wisconsin law, which requires a voter to be registered at his or her legal place of abode.

“In the case of other questionable voter registrations, Post Office records plainly show 875 purported residences in Milwaukee County and 383 in Dane County that are officially listed as ‘Not a Valid Address,’ yet they are still on the voter rolls,” Bernegger said.

The volunteers examined data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s registered voter list, the verified database of the U.S. Postal Service, and several other databases.

Gavery recently presented the group’s data to state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, the Republican chairperson of the State Assembly’s Campaigns and Elections Committee.

Brandtjen told The Epoch Times that her staff reviewed Gavery’s data and posted it on her legislative website on Sept. 20 “for people to see.”

“People want fairness and accuracy. They want to understand their state’s election process beyond just showing up on Election Day. This includes voters, poll workers, observers, and chief inspectors.

Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy of Janel Brandtjen)
Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen. (Courtesy of Janel Brandtjen)

“Transparency is the only way people will have confidence that their voices are actually being heard,” Brandtjen said.

Acknowledging that some of the errors found on the rolls may have logical explanations or have resulted from human error or technical problems, she said, “The sheer number of the errors makes people question the competency of Wisconsin’s election system.”

Brandtjen said Wisconsin law puts the responsibility for keeping accurate voter registration rolls and running honest absentee ballot and early voting programs on the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC).

When asked about WEC’s contract with the Washington-based Electronic Registration and Information Center (ERIC) to maintain its voter rolls, Brandtjen replied, “From what we see, ERIC is either unqualified or unwilling to do the job properly.”

One volunteer with the watchdog group, who didn't want to be identified for fear of retaliation, told The Epoch Times: “For too long, WEC has ignored these issues. They show no interest. They say a review of the data we present to them is unnecessary or it’s too much work.

“Then they resort to attacking anyone asking questions or requesting a review.”

WEC and ERIC didn't respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Bernegger told The Epoch Times that the multiple classes of errors could have impacted as much as 10 percent of the active voter roll.

“This is significant because Wisconsin elections are historically won by extremely small margins. For example, Joe Biden won the state by just 300 votes per county,” Bernegger said.

He said census data show that there are 4.5 million voting-age adults in Wisconsin, yet according to WEC’s own records, there are 7.2 million voters registered on the state’s active and inactive voter rolls.

“Build in the fact that there are only 3.5 million voters on the active list, then ask yourself 'What can possibly go wrong with that?'”

Brandtjen said the work of the grassroots citizen activists is significant because it revealed the extent of the errors and inconsistencies on Wisconsin's voter rolls.

"I suggest the state hire a competent professional database expert to perform regular maintenance on the rolls," she said.

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at steven.kovac@epochtimes.us