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VERIFY: No, Wisconsin's 2020 turnout is not the highest by a huge margin

There is a claim that Wisconsin voter participation skyrocketed this year. But those making the claim aren't using the formula the state uses.

As the vote counts in Wisconsin became increasingly close Wednesday, multiple false claims started to surface about the results in the state. One claim alleged that Wisconsin had counted more votes than they had registered people. That claim is false.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, Wisconsin did not report more votes than people who are registered to vote

Another, similar claim, focused on the voter turnout percentage in Wisconsin.
Both Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. shared it Tuesday. 

It shows the Wisconsin voter turnout in the last five elections compared to 2020. The past elections showed voter turnout ranging from 67%-73%. Voter turnout in 2020, by comparison, was 89%. 

The claim was often shared as evidence that the vote in Wisconsin must be fake or altered, but is it even accurate in the first place?

THE QUESTION

Did Wisconsin have a record-breaking 89% voter turnout or higher in the 2020 election?

THE ANSWER

No. While the number may change slightly with final results, the real voter turnout is closer to 71%, not 89%.

WHAT WE FOUND

Data on the Wisconsin Elections Commission website shows that the first five elections in the claim are mostly accurate. 

The charts show the following voter turnouts:

2000 - 67%
2004 - 72.9%
2008 - 69.2%
2012 - 57.8%
2016 - 67.34%

But the 2020 number in the claim is actually achieved using a different formula than the one Wisconsin uses.

To get 89%, the claim takes the current votes cast in Wisconsin this year and divides them by the registered voters in Wisconsin. 

So that’s 3,240,268 votes cast among 3,684,726 registered voters, which equals roughly 89%.

But that’s the wrong equation to use, at least in Wisconsin. 

It clearly states on its site that “Wisconsin does not calculate turnout based on the number of registered voters.” Instead it uses the “total voting-age population.” That’s anyone in the state above the age of 18. For 2020, Wisconsin says that number is 4,536,293.

So let’s run that math again with the Wisconsin formula for voter turnout. We keep the same total voter count, but instead of dividing by registered voters, we divide by “total voting-age population.”

That’s 3,240,268 votes cast among 4,536,293 voting-age adults.

That equals roughly 71%, a number that is much closer to the past turnout numbers in the state.

In fact, there were only 200,000 more votes cast in Wisconsin in this presidential election than in the last. A total of 3,004,051 voted in Wisconsin in 2016. So the total votes cast in Wisconsin this year isn’t that ridiculous given record turnout nationwide.

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