Conservative law firm, voters seek immediate removal of over 230,000 voter registrations
Motion filed to hold Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt of court, fine members
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
WISCONSIN – On Jan. 2, conservative public interest law firm The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) and three Wisconsin voters asked a judge to find the Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt of court and fine five of its six members $2,000 a day until it immediately removes roughly 232,500 voter registrations from the rolls.
The motion, filed by WILL’s president and general counsel Rick Esenberg, does not name one Republican on the bipartisan commission who was not on the panel at the time the legal dispute began in December.
Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul V. Malloy ordered the purge last month after Frederick Luehrs III, David Opitz and Timothy Zignego, along with WILL, sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission, claiming the registrations of about 234,000 Wisconsinites who the commission believed may have changed addresses must be immediately removed from the rolls. The commission later adjusted the estimated number to about 232,500.
The Elections Commission had sent letters to the voters in Oct. 2019, asking them to either update their voter registrations with their new addresses if they had moved, or notify election officials if their addresses hadn’t changed. The commission planned to remove the voters from the rolls next year if a response wasn’t received.
According to the Elections Commission, 887 letters were mailed in Lincoln County, 284 in Forest, 626 in Langlade, 4,370 in Marathon, 1,375 in Oneida, 352 in Price, and 615 in Vilas.
Citing a state law, the lawsuit argued that the recipients had 30 days to respond after receiving the letter and were to be removed from the rolls immediately if no action was taken within that timeframe. Malloy agreed and ordered the purge on Dec. 13.
Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a notice on behalf of the commission the same day, saying that it would appeal the ruling and would seek to stay Malloy’s order.
The commission was split along party lines on Dec. 30 regarding whether or not to comply with Malloy’s order. The commission’s three Republicans wanted to remove the registrations, and the three Democrats on the panel blocked the efforts. The commission did not pass a motion to direct staff to take action regarding the letter recipients, saying in a statement the commission will “await 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 case is currently before a state Appeals Court. WILL has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case. As of press time, the Supreme Court had not commented on whether or not they will do so.
On Monday, Jan. 6, the Republican-controlled State Legislature asked a federal court to throw out a lawsuit from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin that seeks to stop the purge of up to 209,000 registered voters.