A conservative organization trying to get the state elections commission to deactivate suspected inaccurate voter registrations is taking their case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed an appeal Wednesday with the Supreme Court to try to force the Wisconsin Elections Commission to follow state law and remove voter registrations of those who have been identified as likely to have change residences.
“This is a critical matter for our state. Wisconsin voters deserve to have confidence in the integrity of this year’s elections,” said Rick Esenberg, president of WILL. “We hope the Supreme Court agrees to review this case and provide clarity on the actions of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.”
At issue is a state law requiring the state elections commission to deactivate the voter registrations in question if the voters fail to respond to a mailing from the state of Wisconsin within 30 days. Instead of deactivating the registrations, the Wisconsin Elections Commission voted last June to delay deactivating the registrations until after the 2020 elections.
WILL sued on behalf of three voters and Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy ruled that the Elections Commission violated state law. In a follow up to his decision, Malloy held the Elections Commission in contempt of court and also held the individual members of the commission who voted against compliance with his order in contempt.
However, WILL lost in the Appeals Court in Madison when the court ruled in February that the Wisconsin Elections Commission is not the board of elections intended in the statute. Esenberg said immediately after the ruling he intended to appeal to the Supreme Court.
This is the second attempt by WILL to get the Supreme Court to take up the case. The first time, WILL asked the Supreme Court to bypass the Appeals Court and take up the case directly. The court split 3-3, sending the case back to the Appeals Court, with Justice Dan Kelly recusing himself, saying the case had the potential to affect his April 7 election. Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, a former Appeals Court judge, voted with the two liberals on the court, Justices Rebecca Dallet and Ann Walsh Bradley, to allow the Appeals Court to hear the case first.
Because of the timing of the case, Kelly may not recuse himself from hearing the case this time. The Wisconsin Supreme Court may not take up the case until after the April 7 election, removing the reason for Kelly to recuse himself since he could no longer theoretically personally benefit from the case’s outcome.