“The Wisconsin Elections Commission used a new, more secure system for county clerks to report official election results for the August 14 Partisan Primary,” said Reid Magney, the Elections Commission spokesperson in an email Thursday. “Milwaukee County experienced problems when uploading its results into the new system, which caused creation of duplicate records.”
The duplicate records led to the Milwaukee County Clerk’s office reporting double the number of votes cast in the August 14 Democratic primary election for sheriff in Milwaukee County. The error was first reported by Media Trackers on Wednesday. The Elections Commission corrected the error on their end last week.
“Our staff corrected the problem on Friday afternoon, but did not realize Milwaukee County had printed its county report containing duplicate vote totals and had certified those results,” Magney said. “After Milwaukee County was notified of the county results error earlier this week, we advised Milwaukee County to have its board of canvassers sign corrected results, which happened on Wednesday.”
The Milwaukee County Clerk’s website was updated after being contacted by Media Trackers and the correct vote totals are now online. The certified results appear to have been signed on Tuesday, according to the results posted on the website. The person contacted at the Milwaukee County Clerk’s office by Media Trackers on Wednesday appeared to be unaware that the corrected results were already signed and stamped.
Originally, the Milwaukee County website showed a total of 219,300 votes cast in the Democratic primary for sheriff. However, the ward-by-ward count only showed 109,473 Democratic votes for sheriff. The latter figure is believed to be the correct number of votes cast.
Milwaukee County was not the only county to experience difficulties with the new system.
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission is aware of similar issues in nine other counties, which were all discovered and corrected prior to county certification,” Magney said. “The WEC has not yet certified any election results, which is scheduled for Friday afternoon.”
It was nine total counties, Magney said in a follow-up email. The other counties were: Ashland, Dunn, Florence, Iron, Oneida, Outagamie, Sheboygan, and Washington. While only the Democratic vote total was affected in Milwaukee County, other counties experienced errors for both parties. None of the other counties published the totals with the errors.
Magney also said the commission has “several quality control procedures in place” to prevent errors from being included in the certified results, including double-checking the electronic results in their system against the official records that are mailed to the commission by the county clerks before the official results are certified.
There should not be a repeat of the error in November, according to Magney.
“Like all other Commission systems, the results reporting system will continue to be reviewed and tested prior to the November General Election,” Magney said. “This process will include collecting feedback from county clerks on the system’s performance.”