The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) absolutely violated state law when it instructed clerks to fill in witness addresses on ballot envelopes ahead of the presidential election.
Wisconsin Statute 6.87(6d) provides that "if a [ballot] certificate is missing the address of a witness, the ballot may not be counted."
The voter, however, does have an opportunity to remedy this oversight. Wisconsin Statute 6.87(9) is unmistakably clear: "If a municipal clerk receives an absentee ballot with an improperly completed certificate or with no certificate, the clerk may return the ballot to the elector, inside the sealed envelope when an envelope is received, together with a new envelope if necessary, whenever time permits the elector to correct the defect and return the ballot."
The elector--not a clerk, not a poll worker, or anyone else--is the only one authorized under Wisconsin law to correct any defect in the ballot, certificate, or ballot envelope. The WEC blatantly ignored this when it told clerks on October 19th that they should simply fill out the address themselves.
"Please note that the clerk should attempt to resolve any missing witness address information prior to Election Day if possible, and this can be done through reliable information (personal knowledge, voter registration information, through a phone call with the voter or witness)," the WEC wrote. "The witness does not need to appear to add a missing address."
This advice plainly violates Wisconsin Statute 6.87(9), which is probably why the WEC did not cite it when it attempted to "correct misinformation about Wisconsin's election." Instead, the WEC admitted that it has been giving this illegal advice since 2016!
"The Wisconsin Elections Commission’s guidance permitting municipal clerks to fix missing witness address components based on reliable information has been in effect since October 2016," the WEC wrote this week. "There was no new guidance or change to this requirement."
In other words, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has instructed clerks to break state law for two presidential elections, two U.S. Senate elections, two State Supreme Court elections, and one gubernatorial election in the past four years.
That shouldn't inspire any confidence in the manner in which the WEC has been administering elections in this state.