State High Court Narrows Chance of Voter Purge
Rejects conservative group’s call for quick decision, delays oral arguments until 34 days before November election.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court won’t hear a case that could remove up to 129,000 people from voter rolls in Wisconsin until this fall, narrowing the likelihood a purge of voter names could happen before the November election.
On Tuesday evening, the court denied a request by the conservative advocacy group that brought the case to either bypass oral arguments or expedite those arguments.
The court said oral arguments will not take place in the case before Sept. 29 — just 34 days before Election Day. After oral arguments, the court could rule any time.
The court’s timeline also assures the partisan balance of the court will have changed by the time arguments occur. Liberal Justice-elect Jill Karofsky takes over the seat currently held by conservative Justice Daniel Kelly on Aug. 1, shifting the partisan balance of the court from 5-2 in favor of conservatives to 4-3.
“A majority of this court disregards its duty to the people we serve by inexplicably delaying the final resolution of a critically important and time-sensitive case involving voting rights and the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections,” Bradley wrote in her dissent.
The case, brought by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) in November, argues state law requires the Wisconsin Elections Commission to remove individuals from the state’s official list of registered voters if they don’t respond to a so-called “movers mailing” within 30 days. Commission policy currently allows voters to stay on rolls for up to two years after the mailing is sent.
The mailing goes to people flagged as potentially having moved in Wisconsin or out of state by the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a nonprofit, multi-state group that helps member states keep their voter registration lists current. ERIC identifies individuals who may have changed addresses after they file official government paperwork with a new address, like a vehicle registration or change of address form.
After receiving a notification from ERIC, the commission sends a postcard to the address where the potential mover is registered to vote and asks them to confirm whether they still live there.
Under current agency policy, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will wait up to two years before removing someone from voter rolls if they don’t respond to the mailing and haven’t registered to vote at a different address in the state.
WILL argues state law dictates the commission must remove individuals who don’t respond to the communication within 30 days.
The commission sent the mailer to about 232,000 people in October 2019. Since then, many have confirmed they still reside at their address or have registered at a new address in Wisconsin. According to the commission, there were about 129,000 people who had not done either as of mid-May. Those individuals would be removed from the rolls if the Supreme Court sides with WILL in the case.
Political insiders are watching the case closely ahead of November’s election, as Wisconsin has seen razor-thin margins in several recent elections, underscoring the importance of every vote. In 2016, President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Narrows Possibility Of Voter Roll Purge Before November was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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- State Supreme Court Tosses Voter Purge Suit - Shawn Johnson - Apr 9th, 2021
- WILL President Rick Esenberg on Supreme Court Decision in Zignego v. WEC - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - Apr 9th, 2021
- WEC Statement Regarding Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision - Wisconsin Elections Commission - Apr 9th, 2021
- High Court Urged to Okay 5% Error Rate in Voter Purge - Henry Redman - Sep 30th, 2020
- Court to Rule on Purging 130,000 from Voter Rolls - Laurel White - Sep 29th, 2020
- League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Files Brief to Protect Registered Voters from Polling List Purge - League of Women Voters of Wisconsin - Jul 14th, 2020
- State High Court Narrows Chance of Voter Purge - Laurel White - Jul 1st, 2020
- Voter Purge Push Threatens 129,000 Names - Michael Parsky, Kynala Phillips and Dana Munro - Jun 14th, 2020
- Op Ed: Dan Kelly Wants Revenge - Matt Rothschild - Jun 2nd, 2020
Read more about 2020 Voter Purge here