O’Donnell Missing the Point in Fraud Claim – RightWisconsin

By | November 10, 2020

Radio talk show host Dan O’Donnell is turning into the Don Quixote of vote fraud. His latest attack is on municipal clerks across the state that fixed simple errors on absentee ballots so they can be counted.

County and municipal clerks and poll workers across Wisconsin may have unlawfully altered witness statements on thousands of mail-in ballots across the state, “The Dan O’Donnell Show” has learned.

Wisconsin Statute 6.86 provides that an absentee ballot must be signed by a witness, who is also required to list his or her address. If a witness address is not listed, then the ballot is considered invalid and must be returned to the voter to have the witness correct. 

Instead, multiple sources tell “The Dan O’Donnell Show,” municipal clerks and vote counters across the state simply filled out witness signatures themselves. Acting on false and unlawful advice from the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), these clerks may have inadvertently invalidated thousands of absentee votes.

O’Donnell even enlisted the help of former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman who agreed that if the ballot witness’ address is not on the ballot envelope, the ballot is invalid.

The solution proposed by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and O’Donnell is to toss thousands of random ballots out including, possibly, your ballot.

“The Republican Party of Wisconsin estimates that thousands of witness addresses may have been changed, thus invalidating the ballots on which they appeared,” O’Donnell wrote on the WISN website. “The statutory remedy for this is to subtract a commensurate number of votes for the candidates for whom those ballots were cast, meaning that vote totals may substantially change.”

As anyone who has filled out an absentee ballot knows, the witness address is on the envelope for the ballot, not the ballot itself. If O’Donnell and the GOP are correct (and they’re not), then one possible remedy would be to randomly draw ballots and toss them.

It would be like having a jar full of jelly beans and randomly tossing out a third of them in an attempt to get rid of all of the black jelly beans.

Fortunately, O’Donnell and the GOP are wrong. RightWisconsin consulted our own election law expert, Michael Maistelman, who recently had the nomination papers thrown out for two contenders for Milwaukee County Executive. While Maistelman is a Democratic election expert, he has represented Republicans in the past.

It is correct that absentee ballots without an address for the witness cannot be counted. However, there is nothing that prevents municipal clerks from correcting the witness addresses, whether they’re illegible or missing.

“If a ballot is returned without the witness’ address, the poll worker can attempt to obtain the address from a variety of documented sources,” Maistelman said.

In fact, nothing that O’Donnell cites indicates that the clerks cannot fix the addresses of witnesses, only that the addresses are required.

Most of the time, the clerks will attempt to contact the voters to try to verify the correct information. However, if the clerk knows the voter, or can document the source for the address correction, then the clerk can fix the ballot envelope, too. Making the task easier for most clerks, most of the time the witness is someone who lives at the same address as the voter. Once the problem has been fixed, voilà, you have a legal ballot.

This happens every election, and it’s similar to how nomination papers are treated.

“{The clerks} do similar things all of the time when people turn in nomination papers,” Maistelman said. “They do a quick review to insure they are legal addresses and within the voting district. They also review to make sure that an address is legible.”

If the Republican Party, O’Donnell and Gableman really want to attempt to throw out thousands of legitimate ballots at random, Trump ballots and Biden ballots alike, in the hopes of winning the lottery and finding the right combination to help Trump overcome a 20,000 vote deficit, good luck with that.

“If Gabelman wants to object to certain ballots because the clerk filled in the address, have at it,” Maistelman said. “The clerk will simply have to explain how they got the address.”

What O’Donnell and Gabelman are discussing is not “vote fraud.” It is a voter clerical error that’s fixable.

What we tend to think of vote fraud is usually casting a vote when you do not qualify to do so. For example, you’re under 18, you’re a felon still “on paper,” you have already voted, or you are not a U.S. citizen. Voter fraud is not forgetting to have a witness fill in their address and then someone else filling it in that knows it.

This does not mean that there are no instances of vote fraud. However, they are usually individual efforts, certainly not on the level to give a candidate a 20,000 vote victory in a statewide race.

The last large-scale vote fraud effort, ironically, was conducted by Republicans in North Carolina. In this election, there has been one documented case of one of the major presidential campaigns allegedly attempting to commit vote fraud, but it was the Trump campaign.

It seems a very strange plan to throw out thousands of legally cast ballots, including possibly your ballot, just to see if they can prevent enough votes from being counted to win Wisconsin for President Donald Trump.

O’Donnell is smart enough to understand all of this. He owes his audience a better explanation of what is happening with the election instead of screaming “fraud!” in the hopes of becoming the next Rush Limbaugh or a higher profile commentator on Newsmax.

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