Ruth Conniff

Lawsuit Demands State Purge Voter Rolls

Conservative group WILL sues and assails Elections Commission.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Nov 14th, 2019 12:44 pm
I Voted.

I Voted.

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.

That response prompted the current lawsuit, which WILL filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

“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.

The advocacy group One Wisconsin Now accused WILL of filing the lawsuit in order to help conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly win the April election.

“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

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

More about the 2020 Voter Purge

Read more about 2020 Voter Purge here

2 thoughts on “Lawsuit Demands State Purge Voter Rolls”

  1. Mingus says:

    WILL seems to be in the medial filing more law suits than David Gruber. WILL is just the legal attack dog of the fringe extreme of the Republican Party. With three Amendments to our Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, true patriotism would demand that every citizen be given the opportunity to vote. It is a tragedy for our democracy that a key initiative for the Republican Party is trying making it hard for persons to vote or finding ways to deny them the right to vote.

  2. Thomas Sepllman says:

    There are lots of folks working at WILL They have to do something to justify their pay and so we get law suit after law suit all heading to the Supreme court (either one) that they own. Hummm

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us