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League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Challenges Unjust Voter Purge

MADISON – Late Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and two registered Wisconsin voters filed a federal lawsuit to challenge a planned voter roll purge that was based on unreliable data. Hundreds of thousands of voters were given 30 days to respond to a letter informing them of their purge status, but Wisconsin law only calls for such a timeline when the purge is based on “reliable information.”

“With hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites' voter registrations ordered to be immediately purged, the state cannot base their voter roll maintenance on impossibly short timelines and unreliable data,” said Erin Grunze, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “Such tactics do not put voters in control of their own registration status. The League is dedicated to providing timely and up-to-date information to voters, but we can’t help them when notifications are so inadequate and inaccurate."

The lawsuit alleges the purge would violate the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment because the letters sent by the Wisconsin Elections Commission did not provide adequate notice of what voters needed to do to remain on the rolls. On Friday, a state court judge ruled that state law requires the immediate removal of voters who were sent letters but had not responded.

“In 2018, thousands of voters were mailed purge notices in error based on the same unreliable data, and it’s unacceptable that the Wisconsin Elections Commission is repeating the same mistakes,” said Celina Stewart, Senior Director of Advocacy and Litigation for the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Now is not the time to confuse the process for voters before next year’s election cycle.”
   
The first time Wisconsin used this flawed data to purge voter rolls was in the 2017-2018 election cycle. As a result, three cities, including Milwaukee, reversed the purge entirely because so many errors were present in the data. New letters were sent to 234,000 registered voters in October 2019, which accounts for 7% of Wisconsin’s 3.3 million registered voters.

The League is represented in the case by Fair Elections Center and Rathje Woodward LLC.

The full brief can be found here.

Other key legal documents filed by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin can be found here.

Contact: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | [email protected]