On behalf of three Wisconsin voters, a conservative legal organization is filing a lawsuit in Ozaukee County circuit court 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 lawsuit, 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.
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.”
The lawsuit follows a complaint to the Election Commission in October regarding the voter roll issue.
“The Wisconsin Election Commission was warned in October that they were acting contrary to state law by allowing voter registrations at old addresses to remain active beyond 30 days,” said Rick Esenberg, President of WILL, in a statement Wednesday. “Instead of reversing course, the Wisconsin Election Commission has stubbornly doubled down. This lawsuit is about accountability, the rule of law, and clean and fair elections.”
According to the lawsuit, “…the Defendants have contravened the will of the Legislature and have created new election law policy for the State by simply voting on such a policy in a motion at a WEC meeting (which is certainly not the procedure required for rule-making under Chapter 227), all of which conduct is contrary to law and an abuse of discretion.”
The lawsuit 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.
As the complaint in October pointed 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.