What’s behind the county canvass? Officials certify last week’s election

MADISON, Wis. — The slow process of certifying the election results in Dane County continued Wednesday as the bi-partisan board of canvassers is expected to wrap up this week.

Dane County’s clerk and two appointed members of the board compare the election results from each polling location to the unofficial results reported on election night, confirming that there were no issues.

When issues do arise, however, they investigate those discrepancies, even down to the single vote. During a session Tuesday, the board looked into a vote from a polling place in Verona, where a voter wrote in a vote for Gov. Tony Evers instead of marking the box next to his name.

That vote raised a red flag when the ballot counting machine recorded the vote as a write-in, but the polling location recorded the vote as a vote for Evers.

“That is clearly a vote for Evers that is not recorded by the electronics,” said board member Mike Willett.

“[Clerk staff] went back and looked at all the optical scans of the votes and found the actual scan of the vote,” said board member Anne Bensky.

That is part of the process to confirm that each vote is counted correctly in the county. Later this month, all 72 Wisconsin counties will submit their official results to the state elections commission. The commission chair will certify the state’s results on Dec. 1.

Part of the process helps prepare municipalities for future elections too. On Tuesday, the board found a discrepancy between two wards in Sun Prairie. For the first half of the day, voters in both wards 6 and 7 used the same ballot style — all voters casting ballots labeled as ward 6.

That does not affect the votes themselves — the two ballots were identical except for the ward number. The only problem is that the votes are recorded ward-by-ward. In this case, ward 6 showed 95 more ballots than it had voters, while ward 7 had 95 more voters sign the poll book than had ballots cast.

“It’s kind of a little concerning here that they’re off that far,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell.

The board asked Sun Prairie for more information about the discrepancy and made the city aware of it to prevent similar issues in the future.