Fact Check: Wisconsin Did NOT Have 89% Reported Turnout In 2020 Election

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Wisconsin Did NOT Have 89% Reported Turnout In 2020 Election Wrong Numbers

Did Wisconsin have 89% reported turnout in the 2020 election? No, that's not true: Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration. The claim used incorrect math to calculate the percentage based on the number of registered voters at the beginning of the day and the actual number of voters, which is not how the state determines the number. "The Wisconsin Elections Commission calculates voter turnout as a percentage of the voting-age population," the state website says, with the voter turnout in 2020 reported at slightly less than 73 percent, not 89 percent.

The story appeared as an article published by Gateway Pundit on October 23, 2021, titled "Wisconsin Had 89% Reported Turnout in 2020 Election -- Impossible Number that Still Can't Be Explained" (archived here) which opened:

On Election Night, early in the morning of November 4th, 2020, over 100,000 ballots were dropped for Joe Biden only. What happened in Wisconsin on Election Night when over 100,000 ballots were dropped for Joe Biden only, giving him the lead in the state over President Trump who led the race up till that moment? This has never been explained.

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On Election Night, early in the morning of November 4th, 2020, over 100,000 ballots were dropped for Joe Biden only. What happened in Wisconsin on Election Night when over 100,000 ballots were dropped for Joe Biden only, giving him the lead in the state over President Trump who led the race up till that moment? This has never been explained.

The article opens with a false claim that as the ballots were counted for the November 3, 2020 election, "over 100,000 ballots were dropped for Joe Biden only." Lead Stories debunked this claim in 2020, reporting ballots in Wisconsin were counted late in the evening, not "dumped" in articles here and here.

The "89% reported turnout" is using an incorrect method for determining the voter turnout in the state. The article falsely determined that since 3.2 million people voted out of 3.6 million registered voters, that is an 89% voter turnout. That calculation is not the way Wisconsin determines voter turnout as the state has same-day registration and the number of registered voters increases as the day progresses.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission:

The Wisconsin Elections Commission calculates voter turnout as a percentage of the voting-age population -- people age 18 and above -- as estimated by the Demographic Services Center of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. County-by-county census data and population estimates are available on their website. Wisconsin does not calculate turnout based on the number of registered voters, in part because the state has Election Day registration.
Wisconsin's 2020 Estimated Voting Age Population is 4,536,293.

Screen Shot 2021-10-25 at 10.12.13 AM.png

The Voter Turnout Partisan-NonPartisan Through November 2020 database posted on the Wisconsin Election Commission website reported 4,536,417 voting-age population with 3,297,524 actual voters, which is a 72.69% turnout rate.

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The three previous presidential races had similar voter turnout rates, as the screengrab from the Wisconsin Election Commission above shows:

2016 67.34%
2012 70.14%
2008 69.20%

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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