MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – The Wisconsin Elections Commission delayed taking action Monday on removing voters from the rolls who may have moved despite a verbal ruling from a judge last week.
On Friday, Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy ordered nearly 234,000 Wisconsin voters to be removed from the state's rolls because they may have moved.
Rick Esenberg with the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty says it is about election integrity.
“It's not a request,” Esenberg said. “It's an order and they need to comply with it until they get relief from it.”
Friday's decision is a victory for Esenberg whose organization filed a lawsuit on November 13, on behalf of three Wisconsin voters, arguing the state elections commission ignored the law and adopted policies that allow voters who have moved to keep active voter registrations at old addresses beyond 30 days.
“Our case is about the rule of law, not about advantaging Republicans or advantaging Democrats,” Esenberg said.
Elections commission members met via teleconference Monday morning to vote on two motions dealing with Friday's ruling which ultimately failed 3-3 along party lines.
Robert Spindell, who is a Republican appointee to the commission, thinks removing names would make the rolls more reliable.
Spindell wants to comply with the ruling unless told otherwise by a higher court.
“The Ozaukee County ruling said that it has to be reliable, not perfect, and I know a lot of people and so forth think that in order to have the rolls this way it has to be perfect,” Spindell said.
Democratic commissioners like Mark Thomsen say removing voters could be confusing and argued for a wait-and-see approach with the courts.
“And we all know we took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution, both state and federal, says each individual has the right to vote, and those people that have properly registered have the right to go vote without having to re-register,” Thomsen said.
The case is being closely watched by both parties going into 2020 since President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.
A spokesperson for the elections commission says until the judge issues a written order nothing changes, so for the time being the up to 234,000 voters are still on the rolls.
The commission will likely meet again once the judge issues a written order to discuss the next steps.
Wisconsin allows same-day voter registration, but it requires photo ID and proof of address, so if those voters were to ultimately be removed from the rolls they would need to re-register. You can check the status of your registration here.