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Trial Judge Orders Wisconsin Elections Commission To Purge Voter Rolls

Maayan Silver

A Wisconsin judge ruled the state elections commission can’t wait up to two years to deactivate voters if they’ve moved and don’t confirm their address. The decision could affect roughly 234,000 voters.

Trial judge Paul Malloy found that in expanding the deadline to up to two years, the Wisconsin Elections Commission violated state law. He says the law gives potential movers 30 days to confirm their addresses or be deactivated.

Elections officials sent out the letters after the ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, flagged the voters as potential movers through its data matching process. ERIC aims to make voter rolls more accurate and is used by 28 states and the District of Columbia.

A conservative group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty or WILL, filed the lawsuit.

Read: Lawsuit Could Deactivate 234,000 Voters In Wisconsin

WILL Attorney Rick Esenberg says the state elections commission must heed the legislature, which chose a 30 day deadline. He says the law applies to the state elections commission, not just municipal clerks and city clerks, as the state argued.

He says if people have moved, they need to re-register or be kicked from the rolls. He says even if people are kicked from the rolls, Wisconsin’s same day registration means nobody will be denied the vote, and in the worst-case scenario there's always a provisional ballot

“What this does, is it makes our voter rolls as accurate as possible, and I would think everyone should support that,” says Esenberg. 

Democratic Governor Tony Evers, say the move is an attempt to stifle the democratic process.

Others say people that move are disproportionately young or low-income, and that purging the rolls so quickly implements yet another obstacle to voting.

The decision is expected to be appealed.

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Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018.
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