Wisconsin Judge Orders up to 209K Voter Names be Deleted

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge on Monday ordered the state’s elections commission to immediately begin removing up to 209,000 names from the state’s voter rolls or face hundreds of dollars in fines for each day they don’t do so.

Judge Paul Malloy said in his ruling that “time is of the essence in this case” and cannot wait for an Appeals Court or the state Supreme Court to decide the case.

“I cannot be clearer on this. They need to follow the order,” Malloy said.

The state Justice Department asked Malloy to stay his order of contempt pending an appeal of his ruling, but the judge denied the request. Malloy held in contempt the six-person commission and its three members who dissented in the case. But only the three dissenters will each face the $250 fine every day they don’t comply, not the other three members. The commission as a whole, however, faces $50 fines every day the purge doesn’t happen.

The case is being closely watched, as Wisconsin is a battleground state that President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.

Those bringing the lawsuit argue that the state elections commission, which includes an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, broke the law when it did not remove voters from the rolls who did not respond within 30 days to a mailing in October indicating they may have moved.

Malloy last month sided with conservatives who filed the lawsuit and ordered that the voters have their registrations deactivated. The elections commission has deadlocked on when to do that, however.

The appeals court said it wouldn’t take action because of the pending request before the state Supreme Court that it takes the case. The high court has not said what it will do.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin also filed a federal lawsuit to stop the purge. That lawsuit argues that it would be a violation of constitutional due process rights to deactivate the registrations of the voters without proper notice. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty and the Republican-controlled Legislature are both seeking to intervene in that lawsuit and have it dismissed.

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