Law & the Courts

Conservative Law Firm Demands Wisconsin Election Commission Comply with Court-Ordered Purge of 200,000 Voters

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

A conservative law firm on Thursday requested that a judge charge the Wisconsin Elections Commission with contempt and fine its members $12,000 a day until the commission complies with a court order mandating the purge of 200,000 voters.

A judge ordered last month that the election commission strike from its rolls voters who failed to respond within 30 days to an October request to confirm their place of residence. An appeal to the court order remains pending, but Republicans on the bipartisan commission are attempting to push the purge through immediately.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sued the commission in the Ozaukee County Circuit Court in November, alleging that the commission has “put Wisconsin’s election integrity at risk by intentionally ignoring state law to allow voter registrations at old addresses to remain active.”

“Court orders are not optional,” Rick Esenberg, founder and president of the conservative law group said in a statement. “It is astonishing to observe the Wisconsin Elections Commission act as if they are. Despite the wishes of some, Judge Malloy’s order has not been stayed and must be enforced.”

Esenberg filed an additional motion on Thursday requesting the fines against the commission and the contempt charge.

Wisconsin participates with 28 other states in the Electronic Registration Information Center, a system that flags voters who may have moved. The state sends notices to flagged voters asking for confirmation of residence, and if they fail to respond within 30 days, their registration status is switched from eligible to ineligible.

The voters in question are largely from Democratic areas of Wisconsin, a key swing state in the upcoming presidential election. Democrats wish to avoid purging large numbers of Democratic voters from the rolls who may not re-register in time to vote.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, representing the commission, pushed back against the contempt motion, arguing that the “case should not effectively be ended before the appeals process plays out.”

The commission said Monday it is waiting for “further direction” from the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

“When those courts provide direction, the Commission will hold another meeting to discuss action to comply with the ruling,” the commission stated.

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