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Wisconsin audit finds elections are ‘safe and secure’

November 3 Wisconsin election ballot
November 3 Wisconsin election ballot
Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 11:56 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A highly anticipated nonpartisan audit of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin did not identify any widespread fraud in the battleground state, which a key Republican legislative leader says shows that the state’s elections are “safe and secure.”

The report released Friday by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau did make dozens of recommendations on how the state might improve its elections.

Republican state Sen. Robert Cowles, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Audit Committee, says he hopes the report leads to bipartisan fixes for the issues the audit identified, but that the state’s elections, overall, are “safe and secure.”

Wisconsin is one of several states pursuing investigations into the 2020 presidential election.

MADISON – Today, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released its audit of elections administration (report 21-19). In February 2021, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which is co-chaired by Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem Lakes), directed LAB to undertake this audit effort.

As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, LAB evaluated elections administration issues, including:

• efforts by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to comply with election laws, including by working with clerks to ensure voter registration records include only eligible voters, and by providing training and guidance to clerks;

• efforts by clerks to comply with election laws, including by administering elections, processing absentee ballots, and performing recount responsibilities, as well as the observations and concerns of clerks regarding elections administration;

• the use of electronic voting equipment, including the methodology and results of WEC’s most-recent statutorily required post-election audit and the actions taken as a result of this audit; and

• General Election-related complaints filed with WEC and clerks, as well as how these complaints were addressed.

LAB indicated that it contacted WEC’s staff, surveyed all 1,835 municipal clerks and 72 county clerks in April 2021, contacted 179 clerks to obtain additional information about elections administration issues, analyzed voter registration data, physically review 14,710 certificates that accompanied absentee ballots returned to clerks in 29 municipalities throughout the state, reviewed the results of 175 statutorily required tests of electronic voting equipment that clerks in 25 municipalities completed before the November 2020 General Election, and reviewed all 45 sworn, written complaints pertaining to the General Election that were filed with WEC as of late-May 2021.

In its report, LAB makes 30 recommendations to WEC’s staff for various improvements and includes 18 issues for legislative consideration.

“Given the importance of this audit and the length of this report, I intend to thoroughly review its findings and recommendations over the following days, but generally speaking, this audit affirms much of what we expected. Many of the findings show that WEC and its staff are not complying with state statute on several fronts, from clerk training to verification of voters and voter registration. I plan to work closely with my legislative colleagues to address the recommendations in this audit, and I expect to have a hearing on this audit soon,” said Senator Cowles.

“Elections are the foundation upon which our government is built,” said Rep. Kerkman. “Unfortunately, this non-partisan report uncovered a number of instances in which existing laws were ignored by the very agency entrusted with overseeing our state’s elections. It is critically important that we restore trust in our elections process. My Republican legislative colleagues and I remain committed to using the audit’s findings as a blueprint to bring necessary reforms where needed.”

Copies of LAB’s report may be obtained from its website at www.legis.wisconsin.gov/lab or by calling (608) 266-2818. Report concerns related to state government activities to LAB by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-FRAUD-17.

MADISON – Today, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released their long-anticipated review of the November 2020 election. After reviewing the initial report, State Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) offered the following statements:

“Our government relies on fair and transparent elections. That’s why it’s outrageous that the very agency charged with overseeing our state’s elections failed on so many levels to adhere to our state’s voting laws.

“While expansive in its scope, today’s audit also illustrated the nonpartisan team made contact with and reviewed information from all seventy-two of Wisconsin’s counties. Unacceptable however is the fact that liberal strongholds like the City of Madison and Milwaukee County refused to turn over key records – promoting secrecy and severely undercutting their clerk’s credibility. Wisconsinites deserve better and must demand accountability for this blatant attempt to thwart the public’s right to know.

“With 30 recommendations made by the nonpartisan audit bureau in addition to many legislative proposals suggested, Wisconsin Republicans will use today’s findings as a roadmap to pass reforms to help restore trust in our election process.”

MADISON - Today, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released its report of Elections Administrations for the 2020 election. The LAB is a nationally recognized, non-partisan agency that supports the Legislature in its oversight of Wisconsin state government and its promotion of efficient and effective state operations. The audit released today showed that the 2020 election was safe and secure.

The Democratic members of the audit committee released the following statement:

“The audit released today yet again shows that Wisconsin’s elections are free, accurate, fair, and secure. Despite all the challenges our local election officials faced in the midst of unprecedented circumstances, there is still no evidence to prove any claims that proponents of The Big Lie peddle. It is time to put these falsehoods to rest.

“This audit showed what we already know - faced with impossible challenges, our clerks administered a safe, secure, and fair election. In order to continue supporting their integral work, the legislature should prioritize increasing resources for training, technology, and staffing. It is irresponsible, and simply untrue, for Republicans to continue insinuating that the 2020 election wasn’t administered appropriately. There was no fraud. The election administration was carried out with integrity and accuracy. End of story.

“With the odds stacked against our local clerks, they ran a safe and secure election. We must thank our clerks properly and put these nonsensical falsehoods to bed. Our decentralized election process ensures our elections are accessible, safe, and secure. It’s time to move on.”

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