Wisconsin: “Dane County election review finds dozens of ineligible voters who cast ballots; A small number of cases shows why election officials say Wisconsin’s disorganized system for tracking those adjudicated ‘incompetent’ to vote needs a legislative fix.”

PBS Wisconsin:

In 2015, Mark Wake was in a serious motorcycle crash that put him in the hospital for 10 months with a severe brain injury.

“I lost half my head,” he told Wisconsin Watch.

He also lost his voting rights when a Dane County judge placed him under a temporary guardianship.

The county’s register in probate sent that information to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which added Wake’s name and Madison address to a list that contains more than 22,000 who have been “adjudicated incompetent” to vote in Wisconsin. The system is designed to protect mentally incapacitated people from having someone else fill out their ballot.

After Wake recovered, he said the guardianship was lifted, although no court records show his voting rights were restored — an additional step he apparently didn’t take at the time.

But in 2018, despite still being on the statewide ineligible voter list, Wake registered and voted in Poynette, a small Columbia County village where his name was not on the local ineligible voters list. In the 2020 presidential election, he voted again, this time in Madison as a previously registered voter.

Wake is one of 95 people in Dane County who altogether cast more than 300 ballots in past elections despite being on the state’s list of people deemed incompetent to vote, according to a county clerk’s office review of more than 1,000 records from the state’s list. The state elections agency is reviewing all 22,733 entries to ensure the list is accurate, spokesperson Joel DeSpain said.

“The ongoing review of this important topic involves multiple agencies and entities, each with different pieces at play,” DeSpain said. “Our goal is to be able to provide clean and complete statewide data.”

The number of confirmed cases of people voting after losing their voting rights is far more than previously known — and could mean there are hundreds more around the state. But the number is small compared with the millions of votes cast in statewide elections — and not enough to alter past results as former President Donald Trump and others have claimed.

The cases, however, point to a larger issue that election officials say requires a legislative fix: Unlike many other states, Wisconsin does not have a statutorily defined system for tracking people whom a judge rules are mentally incompetent to vote. In Wisconsin, some, but not all, counties notify state elections officials when a person is found incompetent to vote, DeSpain said.

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