State Supreme Court Tosses Voter Purge Suit
Conservative group wanted voters that may have moved purged from the voter roll.
A drawn-out legal fight over Wisconsin’s voter list ended Friday when the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by a conservative group seeking to purge thousands of names from Wisconsin’s voter list.
The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed the lawsuit in 2019. It argued that it was the Wisconsin Elections Commission‘s legal duty to remove the names from a list of voters flagged as having potentially moved by a multi-state database of government records.
“There is no credible argument that it does,” Hagedorn wrote.
The ruling means about 69,000 names that were flagged will remain on the state’s voter list for now.
Hagedorn’s majority opinion was joined by conservative Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, as well as Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky, the court’s three liberals. Conservative Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler dissented.
The dispute over the state’s voter list began in June 2019, when the Wisconsin Elections Commission decided how it would handle thousands of voters who were flagged as having potentially moved.
The names in question were identified by a multi-state database of government records known as the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). The database pulls addresses from a variety of sources, such as state departments of motor vehicles and a National Change of Address list maintained by the U.S. Postal Service.
But WILL sued in November 2019, arguing that state law required the Elections Commission to purge its voter list 30 days after the mailing was sent.
WILL filed its case in Ozaukee County and won the first round in dramatic fashion when circuit court Judge Paul Malloy ruled from the bench that the names must be purged from the voter list immediately.
After the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission split 3-3 on how to address the ruling, Malloy took the rare step of finding the panel’s three Democratic members in contempt of court. Malloy’s order would have fined Democrats Ann Jacobs, Mark Thomsen and Julie Glancey $250 each per day until the names were removed from Wisconsin’s voter list. He also ordered a $50 daily fine for the Elections Commission itself.
That meant the case had to play out through the usual judicial process, which — in this case — proceeded much slower. Justices heard arguments in September, but the case was put on the back-burner during the 2020 presidential election season, where other conservative groups and former President Donald Trump’s campaign filed far-reaching lawsuits that would have overturned the results of the election itself.
According to Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney, about 69,000 names remain on the list from the original 232,579.
Editor’s note: This story will be updated.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Voter Purge Lawsuit was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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