Wisconsin Lawsuit Seeks Reinstatement of 31,000 Voters

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The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the Wisconsin Elections Commission reinstate voter registrations for nearly 32,000 people who were deactivated this summer.

The commission deactivated the registrations for the voters after a two-year legal fight. That lawsuit, filed in 2019 by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, argued that the commission should have deactivated voters flagged as potentially having moved within 30 days of notice being given.

The new lawsuit argues that the 31,854 voters should not have had their registrations deactivated because they weren't given notice that it could happen or a deadline to avoid it.

Riley Vetterkind, a spokesman for the elections commission, declined to comment.

The commission mailed postcards during the summer of 2019 to more than 230,000 voters identified by the Electronic Registration Information Center as having possibly moved.

The commission voted that summer not to deactivate them until after the April 2021 election to give them several chances to affirm they hadn’t moved. The Commission argued that the state law pertaining to voters who may have moved did not require the commission to remove the voters.

The state Supreme Court ruled in April that the law applied to local election clerks, not the state commission, and dismissed the lawsuit.

At its June meeting the commission deadlocked on whether to change its 2019 decision to deactivate the voters. Since no change to that earlier decision was approved, the commission moved ahead and deactivated them.

Voters who were removed from the rolls can become eligible to cast ballots again by re-registering.

The League of Women Voters lawsuit filed Wednesday argues that the due process rights of the deactivated voters were violated.

“A voter’s registration to vote in Wisconsin is a constitutionally protected interest," said attorney Doug Poland, a partner at Stafford Rosenbaum that is representing the league along with Fair Elections Center and Law Forward Inc.

That constitutional right to register to vote can't be taken away without an appropriate process, Poland said.

"The state failed to follow that process, and so we are going back to court to ensure that the Wisconsin Elections Commission gets the message loud and clear that they must abide by the US Constitution,” Poland said in a statement.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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