As we’ve documented in recent fact checks, the statements from Trump and his lawyers are all absurd and easily debunked. Last week, it was Sidney Powell alleging with no evidence that an algorithm from Venezuela had changed millions of Trump votes to votes for President-elect Joe Biden. This week, Rudolph W. Giuliani is mixing up Michigan and Minnesota to peddle a false claim about “phantom voters.”
Here, we have Victoria Toensing mangling pretty much everything about Wisconsin in a Newsmax interview and Trump repeating the disinformation to more than 88 million Twitter followers. (Twitter quickly flagged the tweet as misleading.)
Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. The Trump campaign is paying for an ongoing recount in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the most heavily Democratic in the state. The campaign is expected to file a lawsuit after the recount, challenging thousands of ballots.
Trump already is seeking to throw out thousands of votes in Wisconsin, including any absentee ballots from “indefinitely confined” voters, roughly 69,000 absentee ballots cast in person during the two weeks before Election Day and more.
Let’s debunk these claims one by one.
“In Wisconsin, somebody has to be indefinitely confined in order to vote absentee.”
False. Wisconsin law allows any registered voter to request an absentee ballot, and no excuse has been required since 2000.
“Under Wisconsin law, voters do not need a reason or excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day, to vote absentee,” the state’s election website says. “Any voter who prefers to vote by absentee ballot may request one.”
“In the past there were 20,000 people. This past election there were 120,000.”
Under Wisconsin law: “Voters who are indefinitely confined due to age, illness, infirmity, or disability may request that a ballot be automatically sent to them for each election. Indefinitely confined voters do not need to provide a photo ID with their absentee ballot request.”
This is an accommodation for voters who cannot physically go to the polls. They have the option of receiving mail ballots automatically for each election and don’t need to provide a photo ID with their request. The requirements are stricter for other Wisconsin absentee voters, who must request ballots for specific elections or years.
The suggestion here is that the number of indefinitely confined voters in Wisconsin grew suspiciously this year. But these numbers from Trump and Toensing are inaccurate, contradicted by the state’s official statistics. The real numbers tell a different story, and Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told us “we have seen no evidence of fraud.”
Magney said that in November 2016, the state recorded 56,978 indefinitely confined absentee voters out of 144,802 absentee-by-mail voters. (That’s 39 percent.)
For November 2020, Wisconsin’s preliminary figures show 215,713 indefinitely confined absentee voters out of approximately 1.32 million absentee-by-mail voters, or 16 percent. (Final figures will not be available until mid-December.)
“Republicans were locked out of the vote counting process.”
Republican observers have been present throughout Wisconsin’s counting process, during the initial count and now during the recount. In fact, local election officials say that Trump’s observers are seeking to gum up the works, “in some instances by objecting to every ballot tabulators pulled to count,” according to the Associated Press.
No recount in Wisconsin history has overturned a vote margin as large as Biden’s. Trump and his lawyers also have falsely claimed that Republican observers were not allowed inside the room as votes were counted in Philadelphia and Detroit, among other cities.
A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The Pinocchio Test
In case anyone needed a reminder that Trump simply cannot be believed on the election, this is it. He is casting doubt on Wisconsin’s results, but every part of his claim is demonstrably false. Trump earns Four Pinocchios.
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