Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Voters wait in line outside a polling center on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP) Voters wait in line outside a polling center on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP)

Voters wait in line outside a polling center on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher December 13, 2021

Review did not find more illegal votes than Biden’s margin of victory in Wis.

If Your Time is short

  • The review highlighted the number of voters who declared themselves “indefinitely confined” and cast absentee ballots without producing photo identification. 

  • The review did not find that those votes exceeded Joe Biden’s margin of victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin.

A headline widely shared on Facebook implied that illegal votes carried Joe Biden to victory over Donald Trump in a key swing state.

"Wisconsin 2020 Election Investigation Finds More Illegal Votes Were Cast Than Biden's Margin of Victory" was the headline on an article by the Western Journal, a conservative news and opinion website.

The article was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The headline isn’t true. The review did not make any finding about illegal votes, let alone enough of them to sway the 2020 election.

The Dec. 10, 2021, article is based on a review released a few days earlier by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative public interest law firm.

The article highlighted one finding in the review: "54,259 ballots were cast by individuals who have never shown a voter ID in any election."

That’s more than Biden’s 2020 margin of victory in Wisconsin of roughly 20,000 votes.

But the headline falsely states what the review found.

The finding highlighted by the article has to do with voters who declare themselves "indefinitely confined."

Featured Fact-check

Wisconsin generally requires voters to present photo identification to cast a ballot, but there are exceptions, including for those "indefinitely confined." They can cast absentee ballots without producing a photo ID.

"Designation of indefinitely confined status is for each individual voter to make based upon their current circumstance," according to a memo issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission ahead of the 2020 elections. "It does not require permanent or total inability to travel outside of the residence."

The legal group’s review said: 

"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. 54,259 ballots were cast by individuals who have never shown a voter ID in any election."

The review found that "there appears to be no particular partisan pattern in usage" of the indefinitely confined status, and "our conclusion remains that it is unlikely that ‘indefinitely confined voter fraud’ happened in material numbers."

The group called for requiring medical documentation in order to apply for indefinitely confined status.

The review concluded overall that "there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. In all likelihood, more eligible voters cast ballots for Joe Biden than Donald Trump."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in January 2021 that amid the coronavirus pandemic, about 215,000 voters claimed they were confined for the November 2020 election, up from about 67,000 in 2016, and that the vast majority already had an ID on file with their municipal clerk or had shown one when they voted in person in the last four years.

We rate the post False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Review did not find more illegal votes than Biden’s margin of victory in Wis.

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up