Despite its swing state status, Wisconsin rated only two mentions during the Democratic presidential candidate debate Tuesday night.
The first was Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT) bragging about his polling here, despite the recent Quinnipiac University Poll. Apparently those numbers were not printed yet in Pravda, or were buried in the statistics of the latest five year plan for maple syrup production in the senator’s home state.
The second reference was made by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) who made the claim that voters were being tossed off the rolls in the Dairy State.
“While we are all sitting here debating,” Klobuchar said. “Wisconsin has kicked hundreds of thousands of people off of their voting rolls.”
Klobuchar’s campaign repeated the claim on Twitter.
To be fair, we’re going to assume it was the senator’s campaign as it was unlikely the senator was posting on social media while verbally jousting with the other Democratic candidates.
Given that there is only one effort that would even remove “thousands” of voter registrations, Klobuchar would’ve been breaking news if it was true.
But it is not. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has not intervened in the case, nor has the Appeals Court suddenly reversed itself. The latest update is that the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a brief with the Appeals Court asking it to rule in support of a lower court ruling.
The lower court ruling Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy said that the Wisconsin Elections Commission is required to follow state law and remove the voter registrations for those who were identified as having moved and did not respond to a mailed inquiry by the commission. When the Election Commission failed to comply, Malloy held in contempt of court the commission and those members who voted not to comply with the judge’s order.
Malloy’s orders were stayed by the Appeals Court based in Madison while that court considers the case.
Klobuchar’s statement references “hundreds of thousands of people” being removed from the voter rolls. However, the current figure of those registrations identified as questionable is 234,000. Of those, a number of the registrations were at undeliverable addresses, a number more only moved within a municipality and should not have received the notice from the Electiosn Commission, and finally there will be a substantial number that re-registered at their new address.
Of course, Wisconsin makes it extraordinarily easy for a voter to re-register at a new address, or even re-register at their current address if they did not move, including same-day Election Day registration at the polls.
And while the Elections Commission is reluctant to remove those voter registrations, the question is “when” and not “if,” as WILL points out in their latest brief. The commission last June had decided to remove the voter registrations after the 2020 elections, not in the 30 days after a failed contact attempt as required by 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 law states, “the clerk or board of election commissioners shall change the elector’s registration from eligible to ineligible status.”
While some have claimed that the Elections Commission is not the “board of election commissioners” responsible for maintaining the voter database described in the law, the commission itself already accepted the responsibility. It is the delay by the commission in the removal of the registrations, contrary to state law, that has prompted the law suit.
But none of the identified questionable registrations have been removed yet while the case is being considered by the Appeals Court. Not one.
Unlike Sanders, we’re going to hold Klobuchar accountable for her statement since the case has been reported even in the pages of her hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, as well as the New York Times and elsewhere. We’re going to assume her staff knows how to read, lest they face the senator’s infamous wrath, and therefore the senator should be properly informed of the status of the case.
Even Politifact rated a similar statement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as “Pants on Fire.”
Given the previous rating, the prevalence of the reporting on the case, and a reasonable assumption that Klobuchar was briefed on the case before she mentioned it during the debate, we’re forced to report Klobuchar and her staff deliberately lied about the case.