MADISON – The Wisconsin Elections Commission today released its list of the top things Wisconsin voters should know after the general election.

1. Wisconsin voters turned out in record numbers.

Unofficially, Wisconsin’s voters cast 3,296,374 votes cast for president, the most ever in Wisconsin, smashing the record of 3,071,434 in 2012.

“I am so proud of Wisconsin’s voters, not just for the record numbers with which they participated in their democracy, but for the peaceful, civil way they did it in this extremely challenging year,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in a news release.  “There were very few problems reported at polling places, which is a credit to our voters and our local election officials.”

The unofficial turnout percentage of Wisconsin’s 4,536,417 voting age population was 72.67 percent, which was not a record.  The 2004 presidential election remains the high-water mark in terms of percentage turnout, because the voting age population was significantly lower.  Wisconsin has historically been among the top states in terms of voter turnout percentage.

YearVoting Age PopulationGeneral Election VotersGeneral Election Turnout
20204,536,4173,296,374*72.66%*
20164,461,0683,004,05167.34%
20124,378,7413,071,43470.14%
20084,330,6952,996,86969.20%
20044,118,6213,016,28873.24%
20003,908,5332,619,18467.01%

* Unofficial

About 1.95 million of the votes cast in the election were absentee, according to preliminary data tracked in the statewide voter database, Wolfe said. Of those, about 652,000 were in-person absentee ballots cast at the clerk’s office or a satellite voting location.

2. Voters concerned about whether their vote counted should not worry.

As allowed by state law, it can take 30 to 45 days for local clerks to record everyone’s paper registrations and voter participation into the electronic statewide voter database.

3. Voters should continue to seek out trusted sources of information about the election.

Every step of the election process is publicly observable and transparent. This includes voting at the polls on Election Day and the counting of absentees. It also includes the canvass and certification of the tally that is happening right now in municipalities and counties across the state. Every ballots case in Wisconsin has a paper audit trail. Every voter registration and absentee request is maintained and available, within reason, for public inspection. 

“Wisconsin doesn’t have more votes than registered voters. It’s impossible.  There were no absentee ballots found in the middle of the night.  Lawyers and observers for both political parties were on-site and involved the entire time,” Wolfe said.  “Clerks followed the law and counted ballots until they were done.”

4. If there is a recount, Wisconsin will be prepared.

According to unofficial results gathered from county clerk’s websites, the margin of victory between the top two presidential candidates is 20,470 votes, or 0.62 percent, which makes the race eligible for recount if the losing candidate wishes to request one. Because the margin is more than 0.25 percent, the losing candidate must prepay the estimated costs of the recount at the time of requesting it.

The losing candidate cannot request a recount until after the last county reports its certified results to the state. The deadline for certified results is Nov. 17, but the last report will likely come in earlier. For presidential recounts, the losing candidate has just one day to file for a recount. The Wisconsin Legislature changed this deadline from three days to one day following the 2016 presidential recount.