RACINE, Wis. — Wisconsin municipalities that use electronic voting equipment are required by law to test their counting machines prior to each election to verify accuracy.
Hundreds of cities and towns across the state use Dominion voting machines, which faced unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud after the 2020 Presidential Election.
A small group of Racine voters showed up to observe the city’s public testing of tabulating machines Wednesday to make sure sample ballots are counted correctly. They didn’t want to talk on-camera, but they also say they do not trust the brand of machine used to tabulate votes.
"There's a lot of disinformation out there and until the public comes and sees elections and understands how they work, I believe misinformation is going to keep being put out,” said Racine Clerk Tara McMenamin.
Clerk McMenamin says Racine County purchased Dominion voting systems five years ago. Flash forward to this year and Wisconsin Elections Commission records show municipalities in these 38 counties use Dominion tabulators, including four counties in southeastern Wisconsin.
“I’m very confident in these machines, but again, like I tell people, we have contingencies,” said Clerk McMenamin. “We have paper ballots in the state of Wisconsin. We can always go back and double check the papers."
Dominion voting machines were put in the spotlight following the 2020 Presidential Election when former President Donald Trump and several allies falsely claimed Dominion voting machines were used in part to steal the election from him.
"We can state emphatically that those claims are all absolute nonsense about the machines being hacked, switching votes,” said UW-Madison Political Science Professor Kenneth Mayer.
Mayer says there are several checks in place to make sure tabulating machines used across the state are accurate, from pre-election tests to post-election audits which are required to test at least 15 percent of the Dominion machines used across Wisconsin. The wards tests in Racine were found to be 99.9 percent accurate via a hand recount.
"The idea that there's kind of a ‘black box machine’ that no one really knows how it works and you have no idea whether the votes are actually counted and it's all kind of mysterious, that's not what happened,” Mayer said.
While Mayer says voters should have full confidence that their ballot will be counted correctly with any type of tabular used in Wisconsin, he isn’t surprised some still have concerns.
"When people, elected officials, are purposely injecting doubt and making totally false claims about the process and the equipment, voters listen to them and that's the reason why voters are concerned, is quite simply they're being lied to by people who are saying these false things for political purposes,” he said.
Clerk McMenamin says the chips which store the vote totals are all cleared by the county clerk prior to Wednesday’s public test. They will also be zeroed out afterward so they go into next Tuesday’s election with no votes recorded.