Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 22, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Wisconsin’s elections regulator appears to be in conflict with state voter-registration laws, and a state lawmaker wants answers.
In a letter Thursday to Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) Administrator Meagan Wolfe, Sen. Dave Craig questions the agency’s decision to keep voters who appear to have moved away on the active voter list for as long as two years — a decision now at the heart of a federal lawsuit.
“Given the importance of agencies following the law, I request the WEC explain its decision not to comply with state statutes related to this matter,” the Town of Vernon Republican wrote.
Failure to follow the law raises serious questions about voter integrity and potential voter fraud leading into the pivotal 2020 election cycle.
WEC argues it is following the law.
Last month, the commission announced it was mailing some 234,000 letters to individuals identified as having potentially changed addresses.
“Another important change from 2017 is that voters who get the mailing will not be automatically removed from the active voter list if they do not respond to the mailing within a month,” WEC stated.
So, voters who received the latest “movers” mailing may remain on the active poll list beyond the crucial 2020 presidential election. That has voter-integrity advocates concerned about potential illegal votes cast in upcoming elections that could be decided by razor-thin margins.
WEC insists that laws involving the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) system used to track registered voters don’t establish specific timelines for inactivating voters who appear on the movers list.
But statute clearly states voters that fail to apply for continuation of registration within 30 days of receiving notice are to be removed from the active voting list. It doesn’t allow for 12 months or 24 months as WEC’s policy, approved last summer, provides.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued the commission, alleging it had violated the law and abused its discretion in interpreting the statute.
“State agencies comprised of political appointees and unelected staff do not have the authority to invent or amend policy contrary to state law,” said Rick Esenberg, WILL’s president and general counsel, in a statement. “Whatever the intent of the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s action, it is illegal and must be remedied immediately.”