By Shereen Siewert
As the status of roughly 230,000 voters in Wisconsin remains in limbo, Wisconsin Elections Commission data show about 1 in 12 Wausau voters is at risk of being kicked off the state’s voter rolls.
Of the notices sent, roughly 209,000 have not requested continuation at their current address or reregistered at another one, according to the WEC.
In the city of Wausau, 1,573 of the city’s 19,582 notices have had no response, or about 8 percent.
In Marathon County, 4,674 of the county’s 76,077 voters have not responded, roughly 6 percent. Of those, 1,145 were undeliverable, according to the WEC.
In November the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, or WILL, sued the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. The lawsuit claims the WEC violated state law by refusing to deactivate registrations of voters who did not respond within 30 days to formal notices asking about possible address changes.
More than 230,000 notices were mailed in October, but the elections commission opted to wait until 2021 to upgrade any flagged inconsistencies in the voter lists. Officials say the precaution was taken in part due to a 2017 glitch that prompted the removal of tens of thousands of voters in Wisconsin.
Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy agreed with WILL’s position and issued a writ of mandamus forcing the elections commission to change the registration status of every voter who did not respond to its October letters within the 30-day timeframe.
The elections commission, however, has maintained that its actions are in line with state law regarding updates to the voter rolls and that the statutory 30-day limit WILL wants enforced does not apply.
The commission appealed Malloy’s order to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Madison, where the case is currently before a three-judge panel. WILL has also asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take up the case, although the high court has not indicated whether it will do so.
The commission, which is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats, deadlocked on whether to purge the voters from rolls as recently as last week.
“The defendants have had 20 days since this court’s oral ruling and 15 days since the written mandamus order and have still failed to comply with this court’s order and it is obvious that the defendants do not intend to take any action to comply with this court’s order,” the six-page motion states.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who represents the elections commission in the suit, said in a statement that the Wisconsin Department of Justice “strongly disagrees with WILL’s position.”
“Both DOJ and WILL have already sought further review, and those motions are still pending,” Kaul wrote. “This case should not effectively be ended before the appeals process plays out.”
Am I affected? Here’s how to find out.
Residents can check whether they’re registered to vote and whether they’ve been sent a “moving” letter at MyVote Wisconsin.
Voters who did not move can confirm their current address online.
Voters who did move can re-register to vote on the MyVote website as long as your address information is current with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Voters can update their address information with the DMV, then return to MyVote to complete online voter registration.