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Last week, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a hearing on the Legislative Audit Bureau’s (LAB) Elections Administration Audit Report. LAB is a 100-year-old, nonpartisan branch of Wisconsin government. The audit was devastating to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), with 30 recommendations for improvement and 18 legislative considerations. However, the audit was not complete as Madison refused to let the auditors touch any of the absentee ballot certificates.


While the audit did cover quite a few issues, it did not address the tabulators or electronic voting equipment. On page 81 of the report, the audit team actually stated, “WEC’s staff determined that the electronic voting equipment for the most part accurately counted ballots. . .” Auditors do not speak in the terms of, “for the most part.” It means the auditors cannot verify the legitimacy of the voting equipment and will depend on the agency. The 2020 elections had quite a few concerns about the validity of the voting machines, and this audit was unable to dispel those concerns. WEC has ignored statutes requiring the 22-month preservation of all election materials, so election programming, IP addresses, routers and copying files are not available to either confirm or dispel voting equipment uncertainties.

To make matters worse, the WEC staff has not reported error rates for any types of electronic voting equipment. The standards for reporting error rates have been in statute since 2002. The error rate is intended for equipment certification testing, conducted in a laboratory setting under optimized conditions. We will not know how many voting errors occurred, and if or how those errors may have changed the voting totals.

Finally, the issue of over-voting needs to be addressed since so many more ballots were folded or mailed during the 2020 election. Reactions to COVID-19 caused almost 60% of all ballots to be put in envelopes for mailing or early voting. Folded ballots, creases or marks on a ballot can create an over-vote, meaning the ballot is not counted correctly. Page 81 of the report refers to 1,109 over-votes in seven counties. 724 over-votes occurred because of creases through the write-in fields; 376 over-votes occurred because of marks on the ballots; and 72 over-votes occurred for inadvertent reasons, such as ink bleeding through ballots. Only after the election, in March of 2021, did WEC emphasize the importance of training clerks on the detailed instructions of remaking over-vote ballots.

My original request to subpoena Milwaukee and Brown counties still stands. We need to recount the physical ballots and machines to confirm that the machines are counting correctly, ensure ballots are not copies, and to make certain that the machines are not hacked. These issues have not yet been addressed.

Campaigns & Elections Committee

The Campaigns & Elections committee held a hearing this week and we had the pleasure of receiving an in-person presentation from Lieutenant Luell of the Racine County Sheriff's Department as well as an interim report from Justice Gableman. You may view the hearing on WisconsinEye.

Floor Session Update

Yesterday's floor session included the following bills:

SB 94: Tracking of Sexual Assault Kits - Creates an online tracking system for sexual assault kits.

AB 501: Clean Water Loan - Reduces administrative burdens on local governments for water and wastewater utility projects.

AB 624: Legislative Redistricting - Creates new district maps based on the new 2020 census. These maps are recreated every 10 years to balance out the population in each district.


Representative Janel Brandtjen
State Capitol, Room 12 West
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 534-0022 or (608) 267-2367 | |