(The Center Square) – The latest political fight on the ostensibly non-partisan Wisconsin Election Commission is centered on ballot harvesting and voter fraud. 

Democratic commissioners said both are already illegal in the state, and neither are a problem that the commission needs to deal with. 

“We don’t have an emergency,” Democratic Commissioner Mark Thomsen said at the WEC’s latest meeting. “We know that it is an issue that needs to be addressed by the legislature, if at all.”

Thomsen is dismissing questions about ballot harvesting and the potential for voter fraud after the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked the Election Commission to clarify the rules about ballot harvesting ahead of this fall’s push to get voters in Wisconsin to vote absentee. 

WILL’s Rick Esenberg last week asked the Commission for clarification because of how the state law is written. 

Esenberg says current state law seems to say that ballot harvesting is illegal.

“Wisconsin law itself doesn’t directly address the question,” Esenberg said last week. “It seems to be written in a way that assumes the voter will be the one to request the absentee ballot, and the voter is the one who has to return it.”

Thomsen said there is no need for a clarification because there is nothing to worry about.

“We know that ballot harvesting is illegal. We know that it doesn’t exist. We know that fraud is virtually a non-existent problem. We had the last election with 43 instances,” Thomsen said. “Voter fraud in Wisconsin is a non-issue.”

Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson said Thomsen is mistaken. “If you think there’s no ballot harvesting in Wisconsin, buckle up because there most definitely will be,” Knudson said Wednesday. “Every third party is going to be out there trying to encourage these absentee ballots. And then out there collecting them and making sure they get turned in.” 

Knudson said this “exactly” what ballot harvesting is. “That is exactly what we’ve never had in Wisconsin and don’t want to have in Wisconsin,” Knudson added. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.

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