False claims of Wisconsin voter fraud rely on wrong numbers

Post shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are falsely claiming that an impossible number of people cast ballots in Wisconsin

The image is based on faulty accounting of voter turnout in the state.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission calculates voter turnout based on the entire voting-age population, not just registered voters. Any eligible person over the age of 18 can show up at a poll and register to vote on Election Day.

As of Thursday, the number of votes cast looked to be nearly 3.3 million, the highest ever in Wisconsin. That puts turnout at roughly 72% of the voting-age population. In 2004 the turnout was higher, with 73% of the voting-age population showing up to vote.

Other social media users pushed claims of voter fraud in the state by wrongly suggesting that the number of ballots cast exceeded the number of registered voters.

One Twitter user wrongly claimed “fraud” and said that only 3,129,000 people were registered to vote in the state. That was the voter registration figure right before the 2018 midterm elections. But as of 7 p.m. on Sunday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission reported 3,684,726 registered voters.

And that figure — well above the 3,239,920 votes that were cast — does not include people who might have registered to vote on Election Day.

In other words, no fraud at play, just social media posts that relied on outdated numbers.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission received “a lot of calls” about the false rumors, said the state’s top elections official Meagan Wolfe.

“Wisconsin does not have more votes than registered voters,” Wolfe said. “Share the facts, rather than speculation or rumors.”


Associated Press reporters Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin and Arijeta Lajka in New York contributed to the report. Seitz reported from Chicago.