Viral Posts Misreport Data on Registered Voters in Wisconsin

By Sydney Nixon

Posted on November 4, 2020

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Quick Take

Viral posts on Facebook falsely claim there were more votes cast in the 2020 election in Wisconsin than there were registered voters. According to state data, the number of registered voters exceeded the votes cast by nearly 388,000, as of Nov. 1.


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The state of Wisconsin favored Democratic presidential candidates for more than three decades, until Republican Donald Trump broke the trend in 2016, when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by a margin of less than 30,000 votes.

The state continued to be a battleground in 2020, as former Vice President Joe Biden was projected the winner on Nov. 4 by an unofficial margin of roughly just 20,000 votes.

The Trump campaign announced it would seek a recount. Campaign manager Bill Stepien said “[t]he President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so.”

While the ballots were still being counted on Nov. 4, however, a flurry of viral posts circulated on Facebook and Twitter, making the false claim that the state had fewer registered voters than the number of votes cast for president.

An example of the widely shared post claims, “Wisconsin has more votes than people who are registered to vote.” It then says there are 3,129,000 registered voters in the state, and 3,239,920 votes were cast. “This is direct evidence of voter fraud,” the post alleges.

But both numbers in the post are wrong and, more importantly, it underreports the actual number of registered voters in the state.

That data is easy to get from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which reported a total of 3,684,726 registered voters as of Nov. 1. Wisconsin has Election Day registration, which means that the voter registration numbers are likely even higher than the total reported on the state website on Nov. 1.

As for votes cast for president in 2020, the New York Times was reporting on Nov. 4 a total of 3,297,137 votes in Wisconsin.

So, there were nearly 388,000 more voters registered in Wisconsin than there were votes cast — contrary to the claims in the social media posts. 

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.

Sources

Jones, Malia. “How And Where Trump Won Wisconsin in 2016.” WisCONTEXT. 21 Nov 2016.

Smith, Allan. “Trump’s campaign manager says they will ‘immediately’ call for a Wisconsin recount.” NBC News. 4 Nov 2020.

“November 1, 2020 Voter Registration Statistics.” Wisconsin Elections Commission. Accessed 1 Nov 2020.

“Wisconsin Presidential Election Results.” New York Times. Accessed 4 Nov 2020.

Wisconsin Voter FAQs. Wisconsinvote.org. Accessed 4 Nov 2020.

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