“Court orders are not suggestions,” argued Rick Esenberg on local Wisconsin radio station, WISN-AM. “They are not rendered inoperative by the fact that you filed an appeal.” Esenberg represents the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty that brought a lawsuit saying the commission must purge about 200,000 voters now. Esenberg wants the Appeals Court to stand by a right-wing judge’s ruling that the commission was breaking state law by not removing voters who did not respond to the October mailer asking that they confirm their address.
That ruling has attracted not one but two separate actions to fight it. The election commission itself and The League of Women Voters.
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.
The vast majority of voters come more from Democratic areas of Wisconsin, a key state in the 2020 presidential election. Donald J. Trump barely won the state in 2016 by fewer than 23,000 votes and Wisconsin could be again one of the more competitive states in the 2020 election.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin also has filed a federal lawsuit to stop the purge. Their lawsuit contends that it would be a violation of constitutional due process rights to deactivate the registrations of the voters without proper notice.
In October of 2019, the elections commission mailed about 232,500 voters to inform them that records indicated they had moved and they needed to verify that the address where they were registered to vote was current. Of those, about 209,000 have not requested continuation at their current address or re-registered at another one.
Of course, there could be many reasons for that and the burden of having to reregister makes voters much less likely to participate.
Again the mailers were sent to heavy Democratic districts.
Esenberg’s group has asked that the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to immediately take the state’s appeal of the case from the lower appeals court that currently has it. On the other side of the case, the commission has asked the appeals court to put a hold on the original ruling, but it has not yet acted.
The Supreme Court has not announced yet whether it will take the case.
Featured image via scrren capture from rightwisconsin.com