Nearly 30,000 voters in Dane County could be impacted by judge’s ordered voter purge

Decision being fought at state, federal levels

Since an Ozaukee County judge ruled the Wisconsin Elections Commission must purge hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, more than 20,000 Wisconsinites have reregistered.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party views this ruling as an act of voter suppression, and it wants people to use that to give them energy for a high voter turnout in elections in the spring and fall of 2020.

About 10 days ago, a judge ruled roughly 234,000 Wisconsin voters should be removed from rolls after failing to respond to mailers requesting an update to their addresses.

The letter did not say they had to respond within 30 days, but consistent with state law, the judge said if voters didn’t respond in time, they should be removed.

This is being challenged with a federal lawsuit and in the state Supreme Court, but the head of the state Democratic Party said he’s working to make sure all these voters are accounted for come the next election.

“If we get the list of purged voters, and we reach out to folks, we text them, we call them, we make sure they know exactly what they need to bring to the polls … we can get them back on the rolls and get them voting again in the spring of 2020 and in the fall of 2020,” said Ben Wikler, the state party’s chair.

The ruling primarily impacts votes in typically blue counties, Milwaukee and Dane. In Dane County, there were about 30,000 voters sent the letter, about 60 percent of whom in the city of Madison.

The conservative law group that started this legal battle, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, insists it was just trying to get the current law enforced.

“For the decision to have any ‘impact’ other than cleaning up the voter rolls, one would have to know, with certainty, that those whose registrations have been deactivated cannot, for some reason, re-register and cast a ballot from a current or future address,” the group wrote in a news release.

The legal fight comes ahead of elections that for the past few years, with Gov. Tony Evers in 2018 and President Donald Trump in 2016, have been decided by a few thousand votes.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.