by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 25, 2022) — In research compiled over more than a year, the non-profit Look Ahead America released a press release and report Monday morning explaining the underpinnings of a widely-circulated claim that the registrations of more than 23,000 Wisconsin voters, primarily in Racine County and with alleged ties to a prison, were found to bear the same phone number, prompting suspicions of fraud.
“Look Ahead America’s Research Group investigated the original data sources to see if there was anything to this claim,” the press release states. “The team contacted the phone number in question, interviewed staff at the Wisconsin Elections Commission, contacted one of the active voters connected to the number, and verified the eligibility of the top 41 most populated locations and all the jails in Racine County. The report provided at the link below gives the details of the investigation.”
The full report can be found here: https://lookaheadamerica.org/racine/
Look Ahead America is committed to engaging potentially disenfranchised Americans in civic activity; promoting “America First” initiatives; “fighting corporate censorship” and bolstering voter integrity through the Voter Integrity Project. LAA also maintains an active database of January 6, 2021 defendants.
The “23,000 voters” claim went as far as its inclusion in a case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, LAA noted on page 2 of its report, appearing on page 322 of the lengthy filing. Initiated by a group of Arizona plaintiffs in U.S. District Court against Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs after their certification of the 2020 election results, the suit was dismissed by a federal judge on December 9, 2020 and appealed to the high court days later.
While many alternative media outlets seized upon the headline, few delved into its origins and accuracy. LAA began its research on the matter prior to the issuance of the Reuters and Lead Stories articles, writing a preliminary unpublished report dated July 25, 2021 which The Post & Email has seen, updated for publication today.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has supported a number of evolving election-fraud claims since the November 3, 2020 presidential election which he believes Donald Trump won, embraced the claim on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” in late October.
As with its Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona reports on 2020 voter irregularities, LAA utilizes a variety of publicly-available tools to research voter information, including the Wisconsin statewide voter database.
On November 1, 2021, Joe Hoft of The Gateway Pundit published a letter written by the Racine County Republican Party Election Fraud Committee directed to “Racine County Municipal Clerks” asking for an explanation of its own finding that “over 23,000 voters registered using the same phone number” after it acquired a copy of the official Wisconsin voter database from the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC).
Under the heading, “Legal Compliance,” the Commission states: “Among many other roles, the agency ensures compliance with federal and state election laws. WEC staff members review and evaluate nomination papers and other documents to recommend to the Commission as to whether state and federal candidates qualify for ballot access.”
Last fall, the Commission came under harsh criticism and reported criminal referrals to the district attorney after Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling claimed the agency failed to uphold state law in its administration of the 2020 election in the county, where Schmaling’s investigators said they discovered widespread misuse of absentee ballots in nursing homes facilitated by memos issued by WEC administrator Meagan Wolfe and subsequent actions of five of the six commission members.
On November 3, 2021, Schmaling also called upon Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul “to conduct a statewide investigation into the illegal directives issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission.”
The WEC has denied wrongdoing.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared the use of outside drop boxes, used in over 500 locations during the 2020 general election and 2021 primaries, illegal.
Further to the “23,000 voters” claim, the Racine County Republican Party Election Fraud Committee’s letter continues: “WEC has addressed this on their website as a ‘default’ number used in the city of Racine prior to 2005, but we found over 100 voters that registered after 2005 including 38 active voters that were registered in 2020 with this same number.”
The letter concludes with, “The Wisconsin Election Committee is acting as a rogue agency, they have proved that they are unable to maintain and secure our very vital voter records.”
Look Ahead America’s conclusions on the claim were arrived at after researching the history of voter registration in Wisconsin, partially provided in the WEC’s statement to the Racine County GOP, as well as federal election law and follow its 2021 and 2022 reports on irregularities in Wisconsin’s 2020 general election processes.
“The Racine Report” begins (“the margin of victory in Wisconsin” refers to the reported difference in vote counts between presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden, Jr.):
During the tumultuous 2020 General Election, one claim emerged that over 23,000 registered voters shared one phone number in Wisconsin, many or all of them at a prison or correctional facility. Variations on this claim have resurfaced from a citizen run election integrity group named Wisconsin Honest Open and Transparent (HOT) and repeated in several news outlets.1 2 Others, including Mike Lindell, have since latched onto this claim as well, citing it as proof of illegal votes and irregularities in Wisconsin.3 If true, then this number of voters would surpass the margin of victory in Wisconsin.
We heard this information from someone who claimed to have uncovered evidence of fraud in Wisconsin, and, looking to possibly supplement our Wisconsin Report, we investigated it. A Wisconsin voter registration does not require a phone number, however, as evidenced by several thousands of registrations in the voter rolls without any phone numbers appended to them. Furthermore, that over 23,000 Wisconsin voter registration records have the same phone number does not in and of itself indicate voter fraud. While this fact proves nothing in terms of voter fraud, it does indicate sloppiness of data in the voter rolls. For this reason, Look Ahead America’s Research Group investigated further to determine the cause of the issue.
As Reuters reported last fall, prior to the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in 2002, Wisconsin municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents did not require voter registration.
HAVA mandated expanded access to voting for the disabled, “alternative language accessibility for individuals with limited proficiency in the English language (consistent with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965);” updated voting equipment and established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), among other measures, including universal voter registration.
Links in the Reuters article to the WEC are no longer functional, perhaps because WEC updated its website within the last week, a discovery The Post & Email made on July 23 while researching for this article. The “FAQ” section referenced by Reuters as containing an explanation for the thousands of voters with the same phone number appears to have been removed, although The Post & Email has contacted the WEC to ask if it has been archived.
LAA report is accompanied by two spreadsheets, one of which contains 23,262 rows, not counting the header row, each with the name and address of a Wisconsin voter who was associated with the number in question, “262-994-9050.” The second spreadsheet bears 24 rows with “real phone numbers” which LAA volunteers called to contact that group of voters after culling down the list considerably.
WEC Assistant Administrator Richard Rydecki, referenced by both Reuters and LAA, could not be reached by this writer at the email address posted on the website, and his phone number was non-functional Monday morning. However, LAA’s report reproduces on pages 2-3 the WEC’s full explanation for the widespread use of the phone number.
On October 20, 2021, Camacho also spoke with Rydecki, who stated the number of voters with the same phone number occurred when “legacy” voter registration data was imported into the new statewide system after the passage of HAVA.
On page 4 of The Racine Report, LAA’s research showed that, “Of these 23,262 registered Wisconsin voters, only 184 cast a vote in the November 2020 General Election according to the voter rolls, far below the margin of victory. Of these 184 active voters, only eight addresses had two registered voters who actually voted, totaling 16 votes, while all other addresses had only one registered voter at them who voted for 168 votes.”
“We sorted by voter status (active or inactive) and reason to determine the influential votes
cast,” the report continues. “We found 431 Active voters: Movers (6 – 1 voted), Permanently Overseas (1 – voted), Miscellaneous / Clerical Error (1 – no vote), and Registered (423 – 182 voted). Of these, we found 326 actively registered in Racine County, not the 384 as claimed by WEC. When we followed up with Rydecki to explain this discrepancy of 58 voters, we did not get a response.”
LAA also checked the addresses of voters on the list bearing the phone number and found that “over 13,000 residential addresses (not mailing addresses) shared this phone number according to the November 2020 Wisconsin voter rolls.” Many showed more than one registered voter, as detailed on page 5 of the report. However, upon closer scrutiny, the report states, most of the addresses contained “no active voters,” or the voters were “deceased, merged or under administrative action.”
On page 7, LAA concluded that, “Having confirmed that only 1.85% of these voters count as active registered voters, and only 0.79% of the 23,262 voters actually voted legally, we can safely conclude that this list did not uncover any fraudulent votes, let alone enough to surpass the margin of victory in Wisconsin. That is not to say that fraudulent votes were not cast, however, but finding a potential match or pattern on a spreadsheet does not prove fraud or negligence in and of itself.”
On the final page of the report, LAA concluded that “What most likely occurred was that this error resulted from an import/export error in the database, as WEC explained. Coupled with the miscounts regarding the counties and overall voters by the claimants, it appears that more training in both how to register voters as well as how to read and challenge voter registrations to clean the voter rolls is required,” while referring readers to its previous report on 2020 Wisconsin voting practices “which confirmed a number of illegally cast ballots in a number of different categories well over the margin of victory at https://lookaheadamerica.org/wisconsinreport/.”
As for the project, LAA Director of Research Ian Camacho told The Post & Email, “People have questions, and I think they are worth looking into. As we said, you’re not even required to put a phone number down; that’s mainly what explains that. We ran the addresses and found a total of 23 people. I called every single person I could. One person hung up on me; the other person told me she had ‘voted against Trump’ — she didn’t vote for Biden; she voted against Trump — but she confirmed it was her.”
From the transcript dated October 20, 2021 Camacho provided us for review, the voter told him she first registered to vote “in the 1980s” and “had not voted in 30 years” “until recently” after re-registering.
“Her story fully checked out,” Camacho told us, having spoken with Rydecki about the specific case (p. 7).
“Two other researchers and I did the bulk of the work on this,” he continued. “We picked the top 40 most populated addresses, which were all legitimate. None of the people at those addresses voted, so it doesn’t really matter. We had this information and thought it was worth doing. There were the original claims and claims that it was ‘debunked,’ but no one really got to the bottom of it. We were able to recreate how H.O.T. got there, so we figured out how it got that count. I actually spoke with the leader of H.O.T., and I think they’re well-intentioned.”
Further, he said, “Just quoting someone doesn’t mean that’s the case. There were weird things, like a bunch of people at one address, but they’re all inactive or merged. That needs to be cleaned up; they’re vulnerabilities in the system. It’s probably painful for the clerks to do this, but it would probably make things easier for them. However, they can’t remove the phone number; the voter has to do that. It’s an administrative problem, and I hope they’ve cleaned it up.”
Regarding LAA’s objectives as a whole, Camacho told us, “I try to be neutral. As a non-profit, we are trying to be logical and fact-based and get actual reforms done, because if you’re not, it’s going to be very hard to get anything accomplished. At Look Ahead America, I try to get people to be a bit more skeptical and more critical in their thinking because it prevents you from getting taken advantage of. We saw a lot of organizations that said they were working on ‘fixing the fraud,’ but I can’t really name any of them that have done anything. Even the GOP, who raised $307 million, what have they done? And the Democrats have been saying this for years; what have they done?”
“We’ve gotten criticism and make mistakes, and we’ve apologized,” he added. “On top of that, we account for that in our reports by including a confidence interval and the margin of error. We know there is probably going to be a mistake somewhere, but we try to empower people and get them to do things that they can do themselves. All the records you’re seeing here are technically public.”
“We try to focus on the positive, and we are having some wins,” he said. “I always say, ‘Look at the results. Is this group getting results?'”