In Wisconsin, Every Ruling on Voting Counts
The voter purge effort initially targeted more than 230,000 names, but as voters responded and updated their information, the list has since dropped to about 130,000.
Wisconsin election rules state that any change to the voter rolls must occur 30 days before Election Day, so the time frame to purge the names after any court decision in the fall would be nearly impossible. Additionally, Jill Karofsky, the Democratic-backed candidate who won the statewide Supreme Court race in April, takes her seat in August, shifting the makeup of the court.
Democrats in the state celebrated the decision.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to not consider purging hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is nothing more than them upholding our democracy,” said Philip Shulman, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “As we move closer to the November election in the midst of a pandemic they should remember what they’ve proven they know — that voting is a fundamental right.”
Officials from the state Republican Party did not return requests for comment.
But as Democrats and voting rights advocates celebrated the scheduling fortune from the Wisconsin court, they were also reeling from a decision handed down Monday by a federal appeals court on multiple voting laws and regulations that had been pending for years.
The court, a panel of three judges appointed by Republican presidents, ruled that the early-voting period in Wisconsin would be no more than two weeks, rather than the six weeks that polls were open before Election Day in 2016. It also said that absentee ballots must be mailed — not emailed or faxed — to voters, and that voters must have lived in their current residence for 28 days, rather than the previous 10-day deadline.
State Republicans, who had pushed for the restrictions, welcomed the decision.
“It wasn’t about voters rights advocacy,” Mark Jefferson, the executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, wrote on Twitter. “It was about Dems trying to tilt the field in their favor.”
The appeals court did provide some flexibility on the state’s voter identification requirements, ruling that expired student IDs are permissible at the polls, and that people without an ID who can produce an affidavit saying that they tried to procure one can also vote.