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Ballots await processing Nov. 3 at the City of Milwaukee Central Count Facility (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Ballots await processing Nov. 3 at the City of Milwaukee Central Count Facility (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Ballots await processing Nov. 3 at the City of Milwaukee Central Count Facility (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Madeline Heim
By Madeline Heim August 23, 2021

No, Milwaukee election official didn’t admit to delivering just enough ballots for a Biden win

If Your Time is short

  • The email message Trump refers to didn’t come from Milwaukee elections official Claire Woodall-Vogg, but rather from an elections consultant. 

  • Woodall-Vogg said she viewed the email as an “inappropriate joke.” 

  • Milwaukee’s ballot-counting process that night has stood up to both a recount and court rulings. 

  • No evidence of widespread fraud has been found -- there or anywhere else -- pertaining to the 2020 presidential election.

Though the 2020 presidential election happened nearly 10 months ago, challenges to its results have not stopped. 

In Wisconsin, former President Donald Trump and his supporters filed recount requests and election lawsuits but lost all of them. The state Supreme Court upheld Biden’s win and rejected Trump’s lawsuit in December 2020.  

In February 2021, Republican lawmakers ordered an audit of the state’s elections through the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. 

Later, in July 2021, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, hired former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to oversee another investigation into the election — even though  Gableman told Trump supporters last year that he thought the election had been stolen. 

And, in August 2021, state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, overseeing another partisan investigation, sent subpoenas to leaders of Brown and Milwaukee counties seeking ballots from the presidential election and the machines used to count them. Attorneys for the state Legislature have said Brandtjen does not have the power to do so

Yet Trump is still falsely claiming that the election was stolen from him. 

In an Aug. 12, 2021 email statement praising Brandtjen’s efforts, Trump wrote that Wisconsin "shows many (to put it mildly) signs of cheating in the 2020 election, and people want answers, now." 

Later in the statement, he added: "A Milwaukee election official even acknowledged dropping off just the margin of ballots needed for a Biden win at 3:00 AM." 

That incident has provided fuel for many claiming the election was stolen, but that’s not what happened. 

Let’s take a look back. 

Milwaukee elections official was responding to an email she later called "a very inappropriate joke" 

Around 4 a.m. the morning after Election Day, an election consultant wrote to Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Elections Commission. 

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"Damn, Claire, you have a flair for drama, delivering just the margin needed at 3:00 a.m." the consultant wrote. "I bet you had those votes counted at midnight, and just wanted to keep the world waiting!" 

Woodall-Vogg responded about 10 minutes later. 

"Lol," she wrote. "I just wanted to say I had been awake for a full 24 hours!" 

The email exchange was published first by two right-wing websites that have focused on how the election was conducted. They have prompted numerous threats against Woodall-Vogg.

She later told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she read the email as a joking way to note the state’s results couldn’t be called until Milwaukee’s total came in. She called the email "a very inappropriate joke" but not evidence of an attempt to steer the election to Biden. 

What’s more, it was expected that Milwaukee’s final tally of votes would come in the middle of the night because Wisconsin election officials aren’t allowed to start counting absentee ballots until Election Day, and there were many more of those ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Both Republican and Democratic observers were at Milwaukee’s absentee ballot-counting center until all results were tallied. 

And there has been no evidence that ballots were deliberately miscounted. The process that night has stood up to both a recount requested byTrump and a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling

Finally, in answering the email, Woodall-Vogg did not acknowledge what Trump claimed she has. 

No election officials have said they threw the election.

Our ruling 

Trump claimed that a Milwaukee election official had acknowledged dropping off just the margin of ballots needed for a Biden win at 3 a.m. 

Though Woodall-Vogg said she read the email she received from the election consultant as a joke, contrary to the Trump claim, she did not acknowledge doing what was claimed, nor has any election official acknowledged that they threw the election. 

We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

 

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More by Madeline Heim

No, Milwaukee election official didn’t admit to delivering just enough ballots for a Biden win

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