Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
This morning, the Franklin-based GrandSons of Liberty held a news conference at the Milwaukee County Courthouse to announce the results of a study showing extensive errors in same day registration for voters in
The errors ranged from minor infractions like not checking off “New Voter” or something more egregious like failing to certify that the person is a “qualified elector” or forms missing signatures and “proof of residency” information. On some forms, there was no indication that poll workers verified anything about the person presenting the form to register and vote.
In addition to those errors, the study revealed almost anything can be used to prove Wisconsin Residency. A voter was allowed to use an
According to Larry Gamble, the group’s Communications Director, “we discovered 3,739 forms with errors. This 33.7% error rate is high enough to question the entire election process and raises doubts about having the accuracy and accountability required to properly manage elections.”
From the study:
This seven month study developed a historical analysis of the April 5th, 2011 election. Two key statistics leap from the results. First roughly 94 percent of the voters registering had either a Wisconsin Drivers License or State ID and second was that overall there was a 33 percent error rate among all the registration forms.
This study was performed by members of the pro-Constitution group Wisconsin Grandson of Liberty between May and December, 2011. Our study only looked at voter registration forms completed at the polls on April 5th, 2011. Existing registrations, early absentee and in-person, early absentee voting was beyond the scope of this project. The Open Records requests were made shortly after the April 5, 2011 election, data was entered between July and November and results tabulated in December.
It should be noted that this examination of Election Day Registrations (EDR) had neither the resources nor scope of the 2004 Milwaukee Police Department’s (MPD) Special Investigation into the Nov. 2004 Election. The 2004 investigation was a collaborate effort by the US Attorney’s Office, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Milwaukee Police Department. However, the findings of this report were shared with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office for review of any suspect EDRs.
Due to the volume of forms and the cost associated with properly redacting identifiable personal information, there was some delay between making the request, paying appropriate fees and receiving the 11,000+ copies of the EDRs. It is worth mentioning that during elections, the Clerks have a daunting task and rely on the training and integrity of the Poll Workers to conduct a fair election. So, despite the issues and concerns raised, we acknowledge the clerks cannot oversee every polling location for every hour during the election. Simply put, the post election review of completed and filed voter registrations drove the findings and comments of this report. We appreciated the helpfulness of the Clerks Offices in the 19 municipalities with preparing the copies for this study.
Once we obtained the EDRs, the first task became building a database that captured the information in the fields of the forms. Total time from making the requests until completing the data entry took roughly seven months then we spent another month analyzing the data. During this analysis, we discovered a couple of statistics that we did not expect to find.
Of all the statistics gathered in this examination of
Overall, it appears some polling locations did a poor job of ensuring the completeness of the forms and a poorer job of noting that they verified the actual identities of some same day registrants. This statement is based on the data that shows county-wide, 1,995 forms left the proof of residency verification incomplete, 142 electors registered using a corroborator then corroborated for someone else, and 164 electors voted in the wrong district. This quantity of errors presents compelling evidence that poll workers suffer from ether a lack of training or they are reluctant to challenge citizens who fail to complete a registration form. Regardless of the why the forms are incomplete, the high error rate invites questions concerning the possibility that poll workers may be blatantly ignoring the provisional ballot rules in the Wisconsin Administrative Code.
If nothing else, there were enough errors to show that the entire process lacks the accuracy and accountability required to ensure election integrity.
Furthermore, the lack of traceability after the election promotes the false argument that if voter fraud isn’t immediately uncovered and successfully prosecuted, then it doesn’t exist. Hence, Mayor Barrett’s “name the names” argument. The inability to retract fraudulent registrations and ballots after the election means that votes get counted no matter what is found after the election, thereby tainting the results of the election.
In this report, we will not “name the names” of every voter with a registration error. It is apparent the majority of the registrations were completed by honest, well intended citizens participating in the voting process. However, this report highlights enough errors to demonstrate how anyone wanting to vote fraudulently apparently could do so with ease.
Of the many errors contained in the report, some are more obvious than others.
A 40 year old citizen checked “No” as the answer to the question “will you be 18 years of age on or before election day?” Despite clear instructions printed in bold, “do not continue” the Poll Worker did not make the voter change that answer and allowed the person to vote.
A voter used a Traffic Citation from the State of Illinois to prove Wisconsin Residency.
Several citizens moved to Milwaukee County and registered to vote using out of state drivers licenses for proof of residency. There is nothing on the registration form to indicate the Poll Worker saw anything else to substantiate the residency requirements.
Three individuals used hotel receipts to substantiate their proof of residency. Two also provided out of state drivers licenses and a third person used their military identification card to register and vote.
A citizen registered once using their WI Drivers License then returned to the polling location some time later and registered a second time using a utility bill. In both cases, this person voted. It was not caught by the municipality during their review of forms to update the state Voter Registration System. However, we turned this information over to the Milwaukee County District Attorney office.
Numerous citizens completed their voter registration forms and there was no indication that the Poll Worker verified the eligibility or identity of the person registering to vote.
Numerous corroborators failed to list their address on the registration form as required.
Finally, with all news reporting on the Voter ID requirements, we were interested in those statistics. We took into account that the Voter ID Bill, passed earlier in 2011, was not mandating voters present a photo ID to vote in this election. It was presented as a “soft implementation” with this election which meant voters could produce the required ID or they could follow the old rules.
This Election Day Registrations study shows that about 94 percent of the voters possessed a driver’s license or a state ID. This singular statistic cast a long shadow of doubt over most claims that identity requirements for voting discourages any students, seniors, minorities or even poor voters from voting.
One final point, the changes with the Voter ID bill eliminated the use of Corroboration. Based on the findings where poll registrars vouched for numerous people and the errors presented; it seems this was an area ripe for potential abuse.
Even with a vast majority of honest, well intended citizens participating, the voting process in
We discovered holes in the process that raise a great concern. Foremost was the alarming 33.7% overall error rate and that translated to a 17.9% error rate just when it came to “Proof of Residency.” One must remember this election was conducted prior to the implementation of the Voter ID requirements. Under the old rules and given this error rate, the potential for vote fraud exists with these error rates.
Based on these errors, it appears some poll officials did a poor job of ensuring completeness of the forms and a poor job of verifying the actual identities of voters for the same day registrants. Given that at least 1,995 forms left out the proof of residency information, 541 electors apparently re-registered even though they were already in the voter registration database with current information, 142 electors needed a corroborator to register and then corroborated for someone else, 164 electors voted in the wrong district. There needs to be stronger incentive for poll workers to ensure completeness of forms. Possibly, additional training or testing for poll workers to boost their confidence which will in turn insure they have the skills and tools to ensure election integrity.
The duplicate entries could happen one of a couple ways. Some voters who did not vote for several elections may have the impression their need to re-register. Other voters may show up at the wrong polling location or get into the wrong line at polling locations with multiple wards using one location. Instead of directing the elector to the correct line or to a different polling place, possibly the poll official simply instructs the elector to register rather wait in line again. Worst case, the question should be asked if these duplicate registrations could have been manipulated to double vote.
Regarding photo ID, this report shows that 94 percent of voters, only slightly lower for new voters, already possess a driver’s license or a state ID and presenting one at the polls does not make it more difficult for them to vote. This report confirms that implementing the photo ID requirement and eliminating corroboration makes an important step towards preventing voter fraud.
The skills and training that apparently need reinforcing includes; proper form completion, proper identification verification, and proper use of the provisional ballot rules in the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Since we discovered 3,739 forms with errors, yielding a 33.7% error, it seems the entire process lacks enough accuracy and accountability required for managing clean elections.
Furthermore, we do not have real time monitoring of voter books or the registration process beyond the immediate view of the poll workers. This lack of traceability until after the election promotes the false argument that if it hasn’t been uncovered and successfully prosecuted, then voter fraud doesn’t exist. This makes Mayor Barrett’s call to “name the names” a false argument. This inability to capture voter fraud in the act means that those ballots get counted no matter what is found after the election, thus tainting the results of the election.
The only way to identify problems with the registration process occurs via this type post-election quality control review. Then, elections officials must act, using the results to improve the process
KF NOTE: For many years I’ve advocated dumping same day registration in
Here is the entire report.