State Appeals Court Won’t Intervene In Wisconsin Voter Purge Case

January 10, 2020 by Dan McCue
A temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sits actress the street from a polling center for the midterm elections on November 6, 2018 in Provo, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images/TNS) *FOR USE WITH THIS STORY ONLY*

A state appeals court in Wisconsin said this week it intends to stay out of a closely watched legal dispute over the planned purging of up to 209,000 from voter rolls in the battleground state.

The District 4 Appeals Court, which is based in Madison, Wis., ruled Tuesday that it would not take the case until the Wisconsin Supreme Court decides whether to deal with it.

In October the state Elections Commission sent a mailing to nearly 200,000 registered voters, asking them to confirm their addresses.

Last month, a county judge ordered the commission to purge people from the voter rolls who did not respond to the mailing and may have moved or died.

The order stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a conservative law firm that wanted the judge to order the immediate purging of the voters.

But the bipartisan commission has since deadlocked twice on the question of taking action before an appeal of the lawsuit is heard.

Rick Esenberg, leader of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty told local WISN-AM radio he disagrees with the commission’s inaction.

“Court orders are not suggestions,” Esenberg said during the radio interview. “They are not rendered inoperative by the fact that you filed an appeal.”

Now the institute wants the judge to fine the commission and five of the six commissioners $2,000 each, or $12,000 total each day, for being in contempt of the order.

Democrats are fighting to stop the purge, saying it will unfairly impact their voters. They argue the October mailing was sent almost exclusively to voters in the more heavily Democratic areas of Wisconsin.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who is representing the elections commission in the case, said it “strongly disagrees” with arguments in the contempt motion.

“This case should not effectively be ended before the appeals process plays out,” Kaul said in a statement.

President Donald Trump narrowly won the state in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes and Wisconsin is expected to again be one of the most hotly contested states this year.

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