Judge Orders Purge of 200,000 Voters in Wisconsin
Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy ordered the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) to terminate more than 200,000 voters who may have changed their addresses and is likely to disproportionately affect blue-voting parts of the state, according to New York Magazine.
In 2016, President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes, and Democratic governor Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker by fewer than 30,000 in 2018.
Purging hundreds of thousands of voters from the swing state’s voter rolls ahead of the 2020 elections deals a big blow to bipartisan efforts to protect voters who may be purged by mistake.
Judge Malloy ruled against a previous WEC vote, which allowed voters to respond to address-confirmation postcards up until 2021, in favor of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, who argued that the WEC was bound by statute to automatically remove unresponsive voters’ registrations after 30 days and any attempt to extend the deadline was unlawful.
As of December 5, fewer than 19,000 Wisconsin voters had responded to the WEC’s 234,000 address-confirmation requests. An analysis by the Journal Sentinel found that 55 percent of the letters had been sent to municipalities that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
The decision has drawn flaming criticisms, as Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Karla Keckhaver argued that an immediate purge would “create chaos” and do “irreparable harm” to voters. Researchers have estimated that stricter voter ID laws in Wisconsin may have disenfranchised many voters from voting in 2016.
Attorney General Josh Kaul told the Journal Sentinel that “any time people have to go through extra steps to vote, and certainly re-registering is a significant additional step, the result is that fewer people end up voting.”