During the Milwaukee County recount, the City of Milwaukee discovered 386 uncounted absentee ballots from Ward 315. The ballots have been processed as part of the recount and obviously will have little effect if any on the outcome. The final numbers for Ward 315 will be interesting to see since the ward tends toward Republicans but absentee ballots lean Democratic.
The 386 absentee ballot envelopes from a ward on Milwaukee’s south side were not opened — and the ballots were not counted — on Election Day due to “human error” at Milwaukee’s central count operation, said Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.
The ballots discovered at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee still would not be enough to change the outcome of Wisconsin’s presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden won by about 20,600 votes.
and now for something a little more direct and closer to home as a resident of Ward 315 shared their email communication with the Milwaukee Election Commission.
I live in ward 315–
It has been reported that 385 mailed-in ballots in envelopes not even opened were not counted. I demand an explanation of why my vote was not counted.
1. What was deficient in the process?
2. Who was responsible for allowing this serious screw up?
3. What is being done to assure no repetition?
4. Who is responsible for the corrective action?
Provide full exacting details which will be shared with local media.
And the Executive Director replied in less than 24 hours despite the fact that she is extremely busy supervising the recount:
First, please accept my apologies regarding this oversight. I was appalled and shocked when I discovered it. In the past eight years, we have had over 20 elections where I have overseen this process and such an error has never occurred. I spoke with the former director and in his 15 year tenure he was unaware of such an error ever occurring either.
We had nearly 600 election workers on Election Day work to process nearly 170,000 absentee ballots. State law does not allow us to start any aspect of this process early, nor does it allow us to stop and resume the next day. As a result, we staffed a large number of workers, all of whom attended training but over half of which were brand new.
It appears that a brand new team worked on the ward, stopped half way, put the opened envelopes on top of the unopened envelopes, and brought their ballots up to be processed. They indicated to staff that they were finished. We have checks and balances in place to ensure that every ballot is counted accurately by comparing ballots cast to the last voter number. In this case, the workers told the tabulators an inaccurate last voter number since they had not finished assigning voter numbers and did not indicate that they were not finished.
Going forward, I will continue to oversee the training, processes and procedures of absentee ballot counting. I will provide all tabulators (the people checking the work of the teams at the tables who open ballots) a list of the number of ballots returned by ward. They will now compare: 1) last voter number assigned 2) ballots cast and 3) ballots returned. This comparison would catch if there is a gross error such as the one that occurred where ballots have not been opened.
Again, I extend my apologies. We make every effort in the city of Milwaukee to ensure that every eligible voter has an opportunity to vote and that each vote is counted accurately. I believe my corrective action will prevent this type of error from occurring again, but regret that it occurred in the first place.
Thank you Ms. Woodall-Vogg for your oversight and persistence and willingness to communicate with a city resident!!!!