“I voted” stickers in Primrose (Photo by Henry Redman)
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, represented by the Fair Elections Center, Law Forward and Stafford Rosenbaum, LLP, filed suit in federal court on Wednesday to reinstate 31,854 registered Wisconsin voters who were purged from the voter rolls in July 2021. The voters were not provided notice before they were deactivated, and therefore, the League argues, were unlawfully removed from the rolls.
“Because these voters were not notified that their registration had changed, they could show up to the polls without the needed proof of residency to successfully complete a same-day registration,” said Debra Cronmiller, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s executive director. “Losing the opportunity to cast a ballot due to an administrative oversight is too high a price to pay. These voters’ registrations must be reinstated, and adequate notice must be given to all future voters identified for purging as a part of list maintenance.”
The Wisconsin Election Commission’s actions in purging the voters are in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process, the League argues in it’s complaint to the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin.
“Voter list maintenance is an important part of election administration, and it must always be performed using reliable data and adequate opportunity for voters to respond,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Voters must have some control around their registration status every step of the way.”
“The Wisconsin Elections Commission could deactivate these voters’ registrations after providing them with notice and giving them an opportunity to respond. But they never did that, so they cannot purge them,” said Jon Sherman, litigation director and senior counsel at Fair Elections Center. “The passage of two years since the first round of this litigation does not mean the requirement to give voters notice is somehow waived. Time does not heal constitutional wounds.”
“We can all agree that a voter should not be made ineligible to vote without the notice guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Dan Lenz, staff counsel at Law Forward Inc.
“A voter’s registration to vote in Wisconsin is a constitutionally protected interest. That right cannot be taken away from any Wisconsin voter without an appropriate process. 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,” said Doug Poland, partner at Stafford Rosenbaum, which is representing the League, and co-chair of its Election and Political Law team.
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