The claim: An investigation found more ‘illegal votes’ cast in Wisconsin in 2020 than Joe Biden’s margin of victory
More than a year after Joe Biden won the presidential election, baseless claims of voter fraud continue to circulate around battleground states. This time, Wisconsin is in the crosshairs.
“Wisconsin 2020 Election Investigation Finds More Illegal Votes Were Cast Than Biden’s Margin Of Victory,” reads the headline on a Dec. 10 article from a website called Team Tucker Carlson, which isn’t affiliated with Fox News.
The article accrued more than 900 shares on Facebook within a week, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool. Several similar claims racked up thousands of additional shares on social media.
The Western Journal published the claim in a Dec. 10 article. The conservative news site later revised the headline after PolitiFact debunked it. Another website, the Conservative Brief, corrected its story after USA TODAY reached out for comment.
The articles cited a Dec. 7 report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative law firm based in Milwaukee. But it dramatically misstated the report’s findings.
The group analyzed vote totals, examined ballots and documents, and conducted surveys and polls to investigate the integrity of the 2020 election. The report’s conclusion: “There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.”
“In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump,” the group wrote.
USA TODAY reached out to Team Tucker Carlson for comment.
Report highlights ballots cast without ID
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s report did not claim to find tens of thousands of ballots illegally cast during the 2020 election.
“WILL’s review made clear that there was very little evidence of widespread voter fraud or election fraud uncovered in the extent of our review,” Collin Roth, the firm’s director of communications, told USA TODAY in an email.
In its article, which appears to be copied from the Western Journal’s uncorrected story, Team Tucker Carlson wrote the law firm found “precisely 54,259 ballots were ‘cast by individuals who have never shown a voter ID in any election.'”
“This number is particularly concerning given that Joe Biden won the state of Wisconsin by just 20,000 votes, according to Politico,” the website wrote.
Biden did win Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes, and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty did find more than 54,000 ballots cast by voters who had never shown ID in any election. But that doesn’t mean voter fraud affected the state’s election outcome.
Wisconsin generally requires voters to present a valid form of identification before casting their ballots. However, there are exceptions for “absentee voters who cannot make it to a polling place because they are indefinitely confined or live in a nursing home or care facility,” according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
“These voters do not need to show their photo ID, but other rules do apply,” the commission says on a website with information about the state’s voter ID rules.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty highlighted these “indefinitely confined” voters in its report.
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“While we cannot infer any malignant intent on the part of these voters, this means that many votes were cast without the requirement of photo identification,” the law firm wrote.