FACT CHECK: Did Wisconsin’s voter turnout rate jump from 67% in 2016 to 89% in 2020?
Brad Sylvester, DCNF
An image shared on Facebook claims voter turnout in Wisconsin jumped from about 67% in 2016 to over 89% in 2020.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission estimates 2020 voter turnout is about 73%. Voter turnout in the state has only increased roughly 5% from 2016.
The image shows a screen grab of a tweet from conservative commentator Harlan Hill showing the alleged voter turnout rate for Wisconsin for election years between 2000 and 2020. In the tweet, Wisconsin voter turnout allegedly jumped nearly 22% from 2016 to 2020.
The screen grabbed tweet attempts to use the alleged jump in voter turnout between 2016 and 2020 to suggest there was voter fraud in Wisconsin, saying, “Totally believable LOLOLOLOL They’re stealing this!” However, the state did not actually see such a jump.
Voter turnout in Wisconsin is determined by looking at how many people voted in proportion to the voting age population, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The unofficial tally shows that nearly 3.3 million people voted in Wisconsin as of press time and the state’s estimated 2020 voting age population is about 4.5 million people, which gives a voter turnout rate of roughly 73%. The Wisconsin Elections Commission unofficially estimates a turnout rate of about 72.6%, Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The current unofficial 2020 voter turnout rate for Wisconsin appears to be roughly in line with previous election years, increasing approximately 5% from 2016. The claim that Wisconsin saw an 89% voter turnout rate may have come from dividing the number of people who voted by the number of registered voters in the state, instead of the voting age population.
“The problem is that some people (including some clerks) are reporting turnout as a percentage of registered voters, which is an irrelevant number,” Magney said in an email to the DCNF. “Unlike many other states, Wisconsin has Election Day registration. That means citizens with proper proof of residence and a valid, government-issued photo ID can walk in to a polling place and register to vote and get a ballot. Across the state, 100,000 or more people do this in any election. Wisconsin uses the Voting Age Population to calculate voter turnout. This is a standard practice among most state election administrators.”
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