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Wisconsin voters cast an unofficial 3,296,374 votes for president. That’s according to Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission.
“That is the most ever in the state of Wisconsin, exceeding the previous record set in 2012.”
Yesterday, the Associated Press called the race in Wisconsin for Joe Biden. But of the 3.3 million votes cast in Wisconsin, Biden won the state by about 20,000 votes, less than one percent.
Officials had warned ahead of Tuesday night that counting all ballots, particularly in Milwaukee County, would last through Wednesday morning. Because Biden’s lead came later on, as more votes were reported, some misinformation has proliferated in why the swing from Trump to Biden took place so late into the night.
Wolfe says election officials were simply following the regulations that determined how they were allowed to count those votes.
“We followed the law,” says Wolfe, “and the law says that absentee ballots have to be received by 8 p.m. on election day to be counted, and counting can’t begin until the polls open at 7 a.m. on election day. The law further says that ever valid ballot has to be counted.”
Nearly two million absentee ballots were cast in Wisconsin, before polls opened on Election Day. But under state law, elections officials had to wait until Tuesday to begin counting them. A proposal earlier this year in the state legislature that would allow clerks to count absentee ballots before Election Day failed to pass.
The late count and swings have led to some confusion, particularly from some supporters of President Trump, who has baselessly accused Democrats of stealing the election.
And confusion over how Wisconsin calculates voter turnout has fueled conspiracy theories among some conservative commentators.
Wisconsin allows voters to register at the polls on Election Day. But since that registration number is variable, that complicates how pollsters measure voting turnout. Instead, the state calculates voter turnout as a percentage of residents who are of voting age.
According to the Elections Commission, the statewide turnout rate in this election was 71%. That’s the highest turnout rate in sixteen years.
When asked today about other allegations of irregularities or fraud in the election, elections administrator Meagan Wolfe said that she had not seen anything to support these allegations.
“We know that there were questions when people see a spike that concerned them at night in those ballot totals being posted, that’s because of central count,” said Wolfe. “And all the absentees coming in at night, they all had to be counted until they were finished, and then they all have to be reported at once and so, that’s where you’re going to see some of those spikes. So, beyond that, no, there’s been no problems reported to our office, no complaints filed with our office on any irregularities.”
When asked about allegations about poll workers completing ballots that had been improperly filled out, a process known as “curing”, Wolfe said that ballots can legally be cured under certain conditions.
“There could be a couple scenarios,” said Wolfe. “One could be let’s say a voter returned their absentee ballot and the witness signature or the witness address had been missing. They could alert that voter and that voter could bring down their original witness and have the witness sign their information.”
“Another option is they’re also allowed to add the witness’ address if that’s missing. If the witness’ signature is missing and the witness doesn’t come down, they can’t cure that another way. But if the address is missing and let’s say they got two ballots back from a husband and wife, and they could see that the person’s address was right there, they’re able to add that address information but certainly not the signature.”
Wolfe also added that poll workers are allowed to reconstruct damaged ballots, and that they are required to record actual incidents of election fraud, and people responsible for those will be prosecuted.
Though the Associated Press has called Wisconsin for Joe Biden, all results are unofficial until December 1. Yesterday afternoon was the deadline for municipalities to hand over their results to county clerks for certification. On December 1st, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will officially certify those results.
Meanwhile, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia have yet to be called for either candidate. Fox News and the Associated Press have called Arizona for Biden, but no other outlet has done so.