The rise of 21st century partisanship in Wisconsin makes it a prime candidate for a lengthy battle in November.
Election Integrity Grade
Appointed Elections Administrator - 2018
Budget Allocation For Elections: $5,670,600
Per Capita Investment In Elections: $0.97
In Wisconsin, elections are overseen by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is led by a bi-partisan six-member commission appointed to staggered five year terms by "legislative leaders or the governor". The Elections Commission, in turn, appoints an Elections Administrator to execute on its mandate. The current Administrator is Meagan Wolfe, selected by unanimous consent of the Elections Commission, and formally confirmed by the Wisconsin State Senate in 2019.
Wisconsin's professional election officials, led by Wolfe, appear to be working hard to ensure a safe and secure election. They have supported some degree of vote-by-mail, have accepted over $7 million in CARES Act funding, and even took the proactive step of hiring a marketing firm to reinforce voters' faith in the system.
Unfortunately, there is reason to be concerned about partisan politics hijacking the electoral system in Wisconsin, as the Republican legislature has a history of working to undermine democratic principles.
Statements on Voter Fraud
Under the leadership of Administator Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin's Election Commission has invested $260,000 in a public relations campaign to reassure Wisconsin voters that the electoral process is sound, and free of voter fraud. (A-)
Wisconsin was a partisan mess for the April 2020 presidential primary, but the state has taken measures since to direct CARES Act funding to municipalities that need it for safety and sanitation, poll worker training, and to boost poll locations. (B)
Support for Vote By Mail
Wisconsin is preparing to send applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters ahead of Election Day. But the state does not notify voters if there are issues with returned ballots, and ballots must be received by Election Day. (C)
Wisconsin meets the minimum level of cyber-security for voter registration systems, and receives fair but inconsistent grades for its paper backup process. The state falls short on ballot reconciliation and post-election audit standards. (C)
Bitter budget battles during the Gov. Scott Walker era laid the foundation for increased partisanship in Wisconsin, with the Republican-led state legislature attempting to seize power and warp democracy via extreme gerrymandering. (D)
KEY PUBLIC STATEMENTS
Milwaukee Election Comm.
If people feel like the system is rigged, and more and more people in Milwaukee are starting to feel that way, it has a pretty profound impact on whether or not they feel it is even worthwhile to participate in an election.
State Elections Commission
This is one of the most important things we can do to protect elections in 2020. We're making sure facts have a fighting chance in a sea of misinformation.
Dem. Minority Leader,
Wisconsin State Assembly
This has all the makings of a Florida 2000 if we have a close race.