MADISON, Wis. — State Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly has the opportunity to stand up for Wisconsin voters by calling on his right-wing allies to drop a lawsuit intended to force a voter roll purge. If the legal action succeeds, tens of thousands of legal voters could have their registration erroneously deactivated in advance of the Spring 2020 elections. The case is being brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), with whom Kelly has been closely associated.
“This voter roll purge will result in legal voters having their registrations erroneously deactivated,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher. “It’s a simple choice for Dan Kelly. He can speak up and support fair elections by denouncing his allies’ attempt to purge voter rolls, or he can do nothing and show he does not.”
In 2017, the voter list maintenance program incorrectly triggered the removal of tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters from the rolls. According to media reports, 21,000 City of Milwaukee voters, nearly half of the city residents flagged for removal, had their registrations restored because it was determined they had not moved.
With the latest round of list maintenance, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has extended the period for voters to either update their registrations to reflect a new address or notify the commission that they have not moved until after the 2020 election cycle. The largest numbers of voters flagged to receive the most recent Election Commission mailing are in Milwaukee and Madison.
The lawsuit brought by WILL, on behalf of plaintiffs who have donated thousands to right-wing candidates and causes, would force the Elections Commission to instead purge voters within 30 days, prior to the Spring 2020 elections. Members of the Board of Directors of WILL donated thousands of dollars to the campaign of State Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly when he was deciding a controversial case in their favor. Kelly also served as a member of a committee advising WILL on litigation strategy and worked for a right-wing foundation that has provided over $1 million in funding for WILL.
Eicher noted this is not the first time the right wing in Wisconsin has sought to make voting harder and more complicated to give try to give themselves an electoral advantage. In a federal voting rights lawsuit brought by One Wisconsin Institute and other voting rights advocates a former state legislative aide testified under oath that some Republican legislators were “giddy” at the thought of their efforts reducing voting by people who tended to oppose them.
In striking down restrictions on early voting enacted by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by the then Republican governor, the judge in the case found that they were intentionally discriminatory on the basis of race.