Lawsuit Demands State Purge Voter Rolls
Conservative group WILL sues and assails Elections Commission.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty announced on Wednesday that is is suing the Wisconsin Elections Commission for not purging the voter rolls of voters who may have moved to a new address.
The action could affect 234,000 registered Wisconsin voters who may have moved, by insisting that they be taken off the voting rolls until they re-register.
WILL filed a complaint in October alleging that voters who did not respond to notices that information from the multi-state Electronic Information Registration Information Center (ERIC) showing they had moved were not changed from eligible to ineligible voting status after 30 days, as the group asserts is required by Wisconsin law.
The Elections Commission dismissed the complaint.
“The Commission is confident that is is complying with Wisconsin law,” commission administrator Meagan Wolfe said in a statement responding to WILL’s complaint. “The Legislature has not enacted any specific processes for the Commission or local election officials to deal with information about voters which the state receives from ERIC,” she added.
“The Wisconsin Election Commission was warned in October that they were acting contrary to state law by allowing voter registrations at old addresses to remain active beyond 30 days,” WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said in a statement. “Instead of reversing course, the Wisconsin Election Commission has stubbornly doubled down. This lawsuit is about accountability, the rule of law, and clean and fair elections.”
“Wisconsin must maintain accurate and up-to-date voter registrations precisely because our state has made it easy to vote and easy to register,” a WILL press release on the lawsuit added.
“There is no low to which the right-wing won’t go to rig the rules to try to get the election result they want,” One Wisconsin Institute Executive Director Analiese Eicher said in a statement. “They think fewer voters showing up in Spring 2020 will help them elect Dan Kelly and they know what they’re doing will result in legal, registered voters erroneously getting thrown off poll lists.”
A review of voter registration records by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) found that, due to the voter purge that began after Wisconsin joined ERIC in 2016, the number of registered voters in Wisconsin dropped by 697,363 between January 2017 and February 2018, “and that significantly more voters were purged from the rolls in Democratic-leaning counties than Republican-leaning counties.”
As part of the ERIC program, the state sent postcards to voters who were suspected of moving. Ninety percent of voters did not respond to the cards, CMD reported, and were purged from the rolls — even if they had not actually moved.
Because of the high number of wrongful voter purges, the Elections Commission explained that it adjusted its approach in 2019.
“When setting policies for dealing with the 2019 mailing to voters who may have moved, the Commission based its decisions on lessons learned from the 2017 movers mailing,” the commission stated in a response to the WILL complaint.
Furthermore, the commission pointed out, the letter to movers did not say they would be purged from the rolls if they did not respond within 30 days. Because WILL’s complaint demands that voters be taken off the roles, “the delayed filing of the complaint also prejudices the rights of those recipients who are not on notice of that consequence for failing to respond.”
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.
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More about the 2020 Voter Purge
- What’s Next in Voter Purge Battle? - Ruth Conniff - Mar 2nd, 2020
- ACLU of Wisconsin Statement on Appeals Court Ruling Blocking Attempted Voter Purge - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Feb 28th, 2020
- MKE County: County Increases Spending on Voter Registration, Education - Corri Hess - Feb 7th, 2020
- Does Court Ruling Mean No Voter Purge? - Shawn Johnson - Jan 15th, 2020
- Murphy’s Law: Why a Voter Purge Is So Critical - Bruce Murphy - Jan 14th, 2020
- What’s Going on With Voting List Purge? - Ruth Conniff - Jan 9th, 2020
- Nation Watches State Voter Purge Battle - Melanie Conklin - Jan 4th, 2020
- Elections Panel Deadlocks Again on Voting List Purge - Shawn Johnson - Dec 31st, 2019
- Data Shows Republican Voter Roll Purge Targets Democratic Voting Communities - One Wisconsin Now - Dec 23rd, 2019
- Barrett Says 35,000 City Voters At Risk - Alana Watson - Dec 21st, 2019
- Op Ed: Elections Commission Stands Up for Voters - Matt Rothschild - Dec 19th, 2019
- Court Will Consider Push to Purge Voters - Ruth Conniff - Dec 13th, 2019
- LWV Challenges Voter Roll Purge - Ruth Conniff - Nov 29th, 2019
- Lawsuit Demands State Purge Voter Rolls - Ruth Conniff - Nov 14th, 2019