(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s election managers are planning a deep dive into why thousands of absentee ballots were lost or delayed in the mail during this month’s election. But they will not ask any questions about the long lines and frustrated voters in Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Election Commission unanimously voted Saturday to look into why tens of thousands of absentee ballots were rejected.
“If we investigate now, it will help us in all elections,” Commissioner Julie Glancey said. “We need to know if there are voters who routinely don’t get them because of issues at the Post Office, or issues along the chain.”
A preliminary report into the April 7 election shows that 135,417 absentee ballots were not returned. Nearly 10,000 of those were canceled by clerks, and another nearly 10,000 were canceled by voters. Just over 4,000 weren’t deliverable, and 176 ballots were sent to people who should not have gotten one. Thousands of others were not accounted for in the report.
The Wisconsin Election Commission also found that 22,820 ballots were rejected. Most, 11,944, were rejected because they did not have a witness signature. Another 10,056 were rejected because they either were not postmarked by Election Day or came into local clerks offices after the extended April 13 deadline.
Commissioner Robert Spindell said some of those rejected ballots need to be blamed on Gov. Tony Evers and the federal judge in Madison who tried to extend or delay the election.
“We see how difficult it is when the election laws that were written to all work together are changed,” Spindell said.
Commissioner Mark Thomsen said Wisconsin needs to know just what went wrong with absentee voting, and the state needs to know before voters head back to the polls in November.
“If we have a comprehensive, sort of macro/micro report at the end of the day, when we have all of the data in one place it provides everyone with very, very useful information,” Thomsen said. “Then we can analyze it.”
But commissioners do not want a comprehensive report on the problems with voting in Milwaukee.
Not a single commissioner supported Spindell’s request to open an investigation into why Milwaukee’s Election Commission decided to go from 180 polls to just five. Spindell also wanted to know why Milwaukee refused to accept National Guard troops to help as poll workers.
Commissioner Ann Jacobs said there is no need to single out Milwaukee.
“I think it’s unfortunate and rather spurious to imply that Milwaukee failed to use the National Guard available to them to open more poll sites,” Jacobs said.
The Election Commission did agree to use a $7 million federal grant to add barcodes to ballots going forward. The idea is to use the bar codes to track where the ballots are in the mailing and voting process.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.