Report: Wisconsin lost track of 82,000 ballots in a state Biden won by 20,000

Wisconsin lost track of more than 82,000 mail-in ballots cast in the state in the November 2020 elections—more than four times the margin of difference separating the two presidential candidates in the state, according to a report by the nonprofit Public Interest Legal Foundation.

The legal foundation, an election integrity watchdog group, released a research brief Friday looking at one of the most closely contested states in the 2020 presidential election.

However, the Wisconsin Elections Commission disputes those findings, as the commission spokesman said the report “mischaracterizes election systems and cherry-picks data,” adding, it is “unreliable and frankly, it’s sloppy work.”

Joe Biden defeated then-President Donald Trump by 20,682 votes in Wisconsin in the November presidential election. However, according to the legal foundation’s report, 82,766 mail-in ballots in the state were either undeliverable or suffered an unknown fate.

A further breakdown by the legal group shows that 1.4 million ballots were sent by mail. Of those, 6,458 were undeliverable. An additional 2,981 mail-in ballots were rejected. The vast majority, 76,308, met an “unknown” fate.

“The federal data show the 2020 election had more mail ballots that were never counted than the margin of victory in the presidential election in Wisconsin,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said in a statement.

“This isn’t the way to run an election,” said Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer in the Voting Section. “Mail ballots invite error, disenfranchisement of voters, and puts the inept U.S. post office determining the outcome of elections.”

Wisconsin was among the three most closely contested states in the country, along with Georgia and Arizona, each of which Biden won by 0.6% or less. A Washington Post analysis in February found that flipping about 43,000 votes across those three states could have changed the Electoral College outcome.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation previously determined 14.7 million mail-in ballots were unaccounted for nationally. The group bases the numbers on data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. In the nationwide popular vote, Biden received 81,268,924 votes to Trump’s 74,216,154—a victory margin of 7,052,770.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission asks local election officials to provide numbers on how many mail ballots were not returned as voted, were undeliverable, or were otherwise “unable to be tracked.”

The U.S. Postal Service inspector general found 13% of mail ballots in the 2018 election used the official tracking system.

The inspector general says ballots in the “unknown” column could have been put in the wrong mailbox or thrown out with unpaid bills.

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