Wisc. Appeals Court Lets State Election Officials Delay Clean-Up of Voter Rolls

‘I can’t be any clearer than this. They need to follow my order…’

Wisconsin Judge Finds State Election Commission in Contempt of Court for Refusing to Clean Its Voter Rolls
Leftist election commissioners in Wisconsin violated the law by refusing to clean inactive voter rolls, including many students who no longer resided in the state. / IMAGE: YTV CO | YOuniversityTV, Spokai

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A Wisconsin appeals court ruled that the state election commissioners need not immediately begin cleaning the voter rolls after a lower-court ruling held them in contempt for their refusal.

Instead, it will allow the commission to delay the process while their appeal is being heard.

The conservative law firm that filed the complaint said that the ruling did nothing to change the facts of the case.

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“What is true yesterday is true today,” said Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

“The Wisconsin Elections Commission isn’t following state law and we look forward to making that case in the Court of Appeals,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

But the state’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, had previously urged the appeals court to overturn Malloy’s rulings.

“The outcome of this case will impact the voter registrations of well over 100,000 Wisconsinites,” Kaul said in a statement prior to the appeals court decision.

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“Appellate review of such a consequential decision is clearly appropriate, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission has diligently sought such review,” he said.

Roughly 209,000 individuals who failed to respond to a deactivation notice sent by the elections commission are still on the state’s voter rolls.

Judge Paul Malloy had previously ordered the elections commission—which is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats—to immediately remove these individuals from the system, but three Democratic members refused and fought the order.

On Monday, Malloy began fining the commission $50 a day, while also fining its three Democratic members—Ann Jacobs, Julie Glancey and Mark Thomsen—$250 a day.

“I can’t be any clearer than this,” Malloy said, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “They need to follow my order.”

The state’s Supreme Court rejected the case, leaving the final decision to the appeals courts. Its decision on Tuesday to accept the case came as the commission was meeting to decide whether it would comply with Malloy’s order.

“If we are going to treat voting as the central component of our democracy, we need to be far less cavalier about taking people off the rolls,” Jacobs said of her resistance efforts.

The Republican plaintiffs countered that it is not the role of the commissioners to act based on whether they agree or disagree with the existing voter laws—including both state laws and the National Voter Registration Act—which mandate that jurisdictions keep their rolls up to date.

They have criticized the Democrats for attempting to forestall the process by dragging out appeals as crucial election-year deadlines loom.

President Donald Trump won the state by a narrow margin in 2016. However, Democrats have pushed hard to prevent a repeat of that outcome, relying on the courts to intervene where voters failed them in areas such as legislative redistricting.

Wisconsin was among the first of many national cases where Democrats sought to use “sue till blue” efforts to force the electoral maps to be redrawn in more favorable ways.

After their coercive efforts in the state forced out Gov. Scott Walker last year, Walker became the face of Republican efforts to counteract the Democratic gerrymandering strategy.

The leftist resistance to maintaining the voter rolls themselves stems from the fact that many of the inactive voters come from places like college towns, where mostly left-leaning students reside temporarily while finishing their degrees before relocating elsewhere.

Democrats also theorize, without evidence, that the deactivation notices disproportionately affect minorities.

Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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