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Wisconsin Republicans Sound the Alarm on Thousands of Voters Potentially Circumventing ID Requirements

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Wisconsin Republicans have raised questions about the large number of voters who did not have to show a photo ID to vote by listing themselves as “indefinitely confined.”

Wisconsin law allows voters to self-certify if they are “indefinitely confined” to their residence because of age, physical illness or disability when requesting an absentee ballot, the Washington Examiner reported.

A GOP official told the Washington Examiner that thousands may have voted without showing their photo ID because of the confusion.

“At what point does it become fraud? I think it became fraud in April, when people were listing themselves as indefinitely confined when they were not,” the official said.

Identifying as “indefinitely confined” allows voters to submit an absentee ballot without having to show a form of photo ID, but a ballot witness has to sign off.

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In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of voters who identified as indefinitely confined rose to 243,000 this year compared to 72,000 in 2019.

Kenneth Dragotta, a member of the Waukesha County Republican Party, told the Washington Examiner that the matter was a major concern.

“So you can register as indefinitely confined, and a ballot is going to be sent to you every election. You don’t even have to request it,” he said.

“But here’s the problem. Indefinitely confined people are not required to provide proof of identification or an ID card.

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There’s no requirement that that be in the hands of the election commission or the municipal clerk prior to issuing a ballot.”

“You don’t even have a voter ID requirement on those people that registered,” he added. “All you have is proof of residency that is required. But does that sound like a really robust, safe election process? I think not.”

Controversy over absentee ballots arose in March when the Dane County and Milwaukee County clerks said that the governor’s coronavirus lockdown order met the threshold for voters to be indefinitely confined.

Republicans asked the state Supreme Court to review the decision made by Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell and the court said that the liberal-leaning county must stop advising voters that they can bypass the ID requirement due to COVID-19, according to Court House News.

“McDonnell appeared to assert that all voters are automatically, indefinitely confined solely due to the emergency and the safer-at-home order and that voters could therefore declare themselves to be indefinitely confined when requesting an absentee ballot, which would allow them to skip the step of presenting or uploading a valid proof of identification,” the state Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision in March.

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“We do not see how the respondents could prevail with an argument that such statements in the March 25th post constitute an accurate statement of the relevant statutory provisions.”

However, if a voter listed themselves as indefinitely confined in the primaries, they were also sent an absentee ballot for the general election.

A GOP official told the Washington Examiner that the party is concerned that thousands of people may have voted without showing a photo ID because of the confusion, thus abusing the indefinitely confined system.

“At what point does it become fraud? I think it became fraud in April when people were listing themselves as indefinitely confined when they were not. And that was just allowed to continue and get worse and worse,” the official said.

“We know there are people who are indefinitely confined. That’s what the law was put in place for, but they left a loophole which you could drive a truck through.”

The GOP thinks that this issue could be solved by wiping the system of all the people who weren’t listed as indefinitely confined before the pandemic and have them reapply for the status.

The state’s Supreme Court has been asked to define what “indefinitely confined” actually means.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith