by Benjamin Yount
Expect a lot of talk about election security ahead of what Wisconsin’s election administrator says could be a record year for voting.
Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe on Tuesday answered questions about election integrity, election security, and what she expects for the November election.
“What we’re seeing with the unofficial numbers is that we had record turnout. We had the highest turnout for an August primary in 40 years,” Wolfe explained. “I think what that tells us is that we need to plan for additional people for the November election as well.”
The unofficial results say that 1.1 million people cast a ballot last week, that means 26% of voters turned out.
If that trend holds for November, Wolfe said local election managers will need more ballots, more poll workers, and more of everything.
“In a state like ours where we have Election Day registration, you don’t have a set pool of the number of people who are going to show up,” Wolfe said. “So you really have to assume that up to 100% of people who are eligible to be registered to vote could turn out.”
That got Wolfe talking about election security, integrity, and the safety of the state’s voter rolls.
“If we’re talking about transparency, or if we’re talking about cyber security, or if we’re talking about balancing these things, there’s no finish line,” Wolfe added. “There’s no, ‘We’ve done it. We’ve done all we can, and we’re finished now.’”
There are a lot of questions about elections in Wisconsin following the 2020 election.
Republicans have pressed Wolfe and the Elections Commission to close loopholes around absentee voting, indefinitely confined voters, ballot drop boxes, and the curing of ballots.
An audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau found dozens of issues with the 2020 election, and made several recommendations.
Wolfe claimed that the Elections Commission answered the audit’s questions, though some of the Commissions’ answers didn’t make any changes.
“A lot of [the audit’s] recommendations pertain to things like administrative rules, and so there is a very long process that involves the Commission at many different junctures, that involves the approval of the governor’s office, of the legislature, and we continue to work through all of those to hopefully provide additional clarity to local election officials and voters as we head into the fall election.”
One issue needing clarity is the curing of ballots. The legislature’s rule-making committee last month scuttled the Elections Commission’s rule that allowed local election clerks to fill-in missing information on absentee ballots.
Wolfe has said that rule will remain in place despite the legislature’s order, because election commissioners are deadlocked and haven’t voted to end it.
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