On behalf of three Wisconsin voters, a conservative legal organization has filed a complaint alleging the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) is not following a state law on purging voter rolls. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) claims that by thwarting the express wording of the law, the Election Commission is opening the state up to potential voter fraud.
According to the complaint, the Election Commission only has thirty days to move a voter to “inactive” status if the commission determines the voter no longer resides at the address on the voter roll. However, the Election Commission determined in June that such a voter will be moved to “inactive” status in 12 to 24 months.
“State agencies comprised of political appointees and unelected staff do not have the authority to invent or amend policy contrary to state law,” said Rick Esenberg, WILL President and general counsel. “Whatever the intent of the Wisconsin Election Commission’s action, it is illegal and must be remedied immediately.”
If the state agency does not change its policy to comply with state law, WILL has threatened to file a lawsuit to force them to change their policy. The complaint by WILL was filed on behalf of Thomas Zignego, David Opitz and Frederick Luehrs III.
To maintain an accurate voter registration list, Wisconsin and 28 other states participate in a program called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). When a voter conducts an official government transaction using an address different than their voter registration address, ERIC flags the voter to state election agencies as a “mover.” After an Election Commission review, a notice is sent out to the “movers” asking them to verify their address.
If the commission does not receive a response, then the voter is moved to “inactive” status until the matter is cleared.
According to state law, “If the elector no longer resides in the municipality or fails to apply for continuation of registration within 30 days of the date the notice is mailed, the clerk or board of election commissioners shall change the elector’s registration from eligible to ineligible status.”
As the complaint points out, the change to “inactive” status is not a burden on the voter as Wisconsin still has same day voter registration and a requirement that voters bring proper identification with them to the polls. A person who is in “inactive” status can simply re-register the day of the election.