Wisconsin judge orders removal of 234,000 voters from state registry

PORT WASHINGTON -- Thousands of Wisconsin voters will be removed from the state's voter registry following the ruling of an Ozaukee County Circuit Court judge, Dec. 13.

The ruling could affect up to 234,000 Wisconsin voters. They will have the opportunity to re-register right up to election day. But this case is likely going to be heard by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

The conservative group "Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty", also known as WILL, sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission for not tossing the registrations of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin voters who were flagged as having potentially moved -- and who didn't respond to a mailing within 30 days.

WILL argued that the Commission is bound by law to remove the voters and that, by not doing so, increases the risk of voter fraud.

"There is no way to find out which ballots belonged to people who shouldn't have voted," said Rick Esenberg, an attorney for WILL.

The Commission argued removing the voters ahead of the February election could cause confusion. They also said the program that flags voters is flawed. And that just because a person had moved, doesn't mean they will vote at their old address.

"It assumes they are going to vote improperly and commit voter fraud," said Karla Keckhaver, representing the Commission. "There is no evidence to prove that is going to happen."

The judge, Paul Malloy, ruled with WILL, saying that state lawmakers approved the statute to remove flagged voters. Therefore, the Commission must comply.

"If you don't like it, you have to go back to the legislature," Judge Malloy said.

Immediately after the ruling, an attorney for the Commission said she would appeal the decision.

The ruling is a blow to Democrats. Political experts say people who move frequently are more likely young, unmarried and Democrats. That means Democratic campaigns will have to spend more time educating and re-registering their voters.