The state Department of Justice is asking the Madison-based 4th District Court of Appeals to issue a decision by Monday on its request to stay an Ozaukee County judge’s order that could deactivate over 200,000 voters.
Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has filed a new lawsuit in federal court seeking to prevent the purge of the state’s voter rolls.
Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy yesterday signed a formal order following his oral ruling on Friday requiring the Elections Commission to deactivate registrations for voters who may have moved and failed to respond within 30 days to a state notice double checking their addresses.
But in filings submitted late yesterday afternoon, the DOJ appealed that decision and called on the appellate court to issue a stay of Malloy’s order by Dec. 23.
The filing argues the statute cited by the plaintiffs in the case requiring voters who do not respond to a mailing within the 30-day period to be deactivated does not apply to the state elections commission, but rather municipal clerks and boards of election commissioners. Thus, the filing concludes, Malloy’s order “was issued in error” and the public will suffer “irreparable harm” if the elections commission is forced to comply with it.
“Especially given the likelihood that an appeal will yield a different result, a stay is warranted to prevent public confusion and improper deactivation,” the filing says.
LWVWI, meanwhile, is filing its case in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, alleging the purge would violate the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
The League contends the initial mailing from the Elections Commission failed to give adequate notice of what voters needed to do to remain on the rolls, the consequences of not responding and the timeframe to return the mailing.
The organization further alleges the move would violate the due process clause of voters who did not move but did not respond to the mailing and would be improperly deactivated. WEC told voters in the mailing that if they had not moved, they could confirm their addresses by voting in the next election.
The suit seeks to delay deactivation until after the April presidential primary and asks for voters facing deactivation to be sent another mailing informing them of their status and steps that can be taken to avoid having their registration purged.
Read the formal order:
Read the DOJ’s request for a stay:
Read the LWVWI complaint: