Wisconsin Election Officials Refute Trump's Prediction of Massive Voter Fraud

Oct 20, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been ruffling feathers lately by suggesting there could be massive fraud at the polls on Nov. 8. Local elections officials are among the many refuting Trump's allegations and insist every voters' ballot will count.

At a campaign stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin this week, Trump said: "They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there's a lot going on."

He repeated his claim of a 'rigged' election during Wednesday's debate:

In theory, someone could try to tamper with elections well in advance of Election Day. They could try to change the state's list of registered voters. Reid Magney of Wisconsin's elections commission says people have called his office with questions.

"Because in the news it's been reported that elections databases in Arizona and Illinois were entered by hackers. Nothing like that has happened in Wisconsin," he says.

Magney says he's confident the state's voter registration database will remain secure.

"We actually upgraded our system to the absolute latest technology. We're also working with the Department of Homeland Security to conduct regular scans to make sure there have been no intrusions," he says.

READ: Wisconsin Election Officials Taking Precautions Against Hacking of Voter Database

What about a person wishing to rig ballots and voting machines? Right now in the city of Milwaukee, they’re lined up inside a warehouse. Yet Milwaukee's election commissioner Neil Albrecht says it would be virtually impossible to tinker with the machines or the ballots.

"They're held in a locked space until Election Day, but you also have to have a key to open the equipment. There are also numerous locked compartments within the equipment," he says.

Albrecht says if someone were to find a way to unlock the machines, workers would know.

"There are seals that cannot be compromised on those compartments, and then also just a continuous chain of custody where people are documenting who's been in possession of these ballots," he says.

On Election Day itself, poll workers keep just as close an eye on each ballot's movements. Waukesha County Clerk Kathleen Novack says poll workers only hand ballots to voters with proper identification.

READ: Review: Voter ID States, Including Wisconsin, Have No Voter Impersonation Problem

"They fill it out and they feed the ballot into the machine and it's counted and then stored in a very secure, protected ballot bin, and then ultimately sealed into ballot bags that are initialed off by three observers," she says.

"I just can't imagine that we have even a microscopic chance of any kind of problem."

Novack says at the end of the night the machines print paper records of ballots counted and they have to match the number of ballots issued. So, she says, workers would discover if someone tried to insert extra ballots or tinker with a machine's electronic tally.

Finally, Novack says the county sends its results to the state via a secure modem, which prevents hacking. "I just can't imagine that we have even a microscopic chance of any kind of problem."

"There are so many other checks and balances set up in the system, the logistics of it would be a nightmare. It's not even worth trying (to rig elections)," says Reid Magney of the state elections commission. He points out another feature of Wisconsin elections that makes them very tough to corrupt. Some 1,800 nonpartisan municipal clerks run elections. And dozens -- if not hundreds -- of them would have to work together if they wanted to pull off widespread fraud.

Yet just the talk about the possibility of fraud worries Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee's election commissioner. He fears it will impact voters.

"Anything that cannot be substantiated, but that creates some element of doubt, is certainly not in the spirit of democracy in this country," Albrecht says.

Albrecht wants people to feel confident their vote will count, so no one decides to stay home on Election Day.