Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

About 80 percent of the voters who registered as indefinitely confined to get a ballot in last year’s presidential election have provided a photo ID in past elections to their local clerk, a new report from the Wisconsin Elections Commission finds.

But in total, the number of those who voted under the status made up just 11 percent of absentee ballots returned.

The status, which allows voters to register for an absentee ballot without providing photo ID, was the subject of litigation from the Trump campaign in the wake of the November election. The status can be claimed because of “age, physical illness or infirmity or are disabled for an indefinite period.”

President Trump’s legal team sought to toss out all ballots cast by those who claimed the status in Dane and Milwaukee counties, arguing local clerks didn’t do their due diligence to remove voters who fraudulently claimed the status. That suit was rejected by a Racine County reserve judge and the state Supreme Court.

Still, the report from the Elections Commission found four out of every five voters who claimed the status either have a photo ID on file with their local clerk or have presented photo ID to vote in a recent election. The report also found after review that two-thirds of indefinitely confined applications came from voters over age 65.

The report indicated more voters registered as indefinitely confined in November than in April, but that figure made up a small portion of absentee ballots cast.

In the wake of the April election, some 199,000 voters indicated they held that status, up from about 70,000 requests on file in 2019 and 55,000 requests on file in 2016. Those claiming the status made up 14.1 percent of absentee ballots returned.

In November, the report found the overall total of indefinitely confined registrations reached nearly 266,000 but only made up 11 percent of absentee ballots returned.

The report also found the absentee ballot rejection rate in last November’s election dipped to fractions of a percentage point, down from the near 2 percent mark it reached in the first statewide election during the COVID-19 pandemic last April.

Overall, the report found local clerks rejected just 4,270 of the 1,969,274 absentee ballots cast by Wisconsin voters in November, a rate that equates to .2 percent. In April, that rate reached 1.8 percent after previously sitting at .2 percent for the November 2018 election and 2.3 percent for the April 2018 election.

Of the ballots rejected, a third were not counted by clerks because they lacked sufficient certification. The 1,434 ballots rejected for that reason marked the most common reason for rejection, slightly ahead of the 1,151 ballots rejected because a clerk determined the voter was ineligible and the 1,045 ballots that were not returned before polls closed.

The report will be presented to the commission at next week’s meeting. The commission in May voted 4-2 to send a similar report on the April election to the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers.

Dem Commissioners Mark Thomsen and Anne Jacobs, who now chairs the panel, voted against releasing that report. They argued it was misleading because it contained a statistic showing the absentee ballot rejection rate was on par with previous elections and an additional 79,000 ballots would have been rejected if not for a court ruling extending the deadline for absentee ballots to be received.

See the report:
https://staging.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/D.-November-2020-Election-Data-Report-Updated.pdf

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