GOP lawmakers filed a motion to intervene in a Waukesha County lawsuit seeking to bar local clerks from filling in missing information on absentee ballot envelopes.

The motion was filed in a suit brought by the Waukesha County GOP and others. It came on the heels of a legislative committee approving along party lines giving Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos the power to hire private attorneys at taxpayers’ expense for the effort.

“Lawless ballot curing cannot and will not be allowed to continue,” said LeMahieu, R-Oostburg said Thursday. “We’re putting the full weight of the Legislature behind this lawsuit to shut down WEC’s defiant and flagrant abuse of the law.”

The commission in 2016 unanimously approved telling clerks they could address deficiencies in absentee ballot envelopes without first contacting voters. But the issue became a point of contention for Republicans after Donald Trump’s narrow loss to Joe Biden in 2020 as voters cast nearly 1.4 million absentee ballots by mail. Republicans contend state law only allows the voter to fix issues with an absentee ballot envelope.

The GOP-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules directed the commission to put its guidance through the rule process, which gives lawmakers oversight. In July, the committee suspended the rule the agency proposed to implement the guidance for clerks on fixing issues such as a missing zip code on a witness signature.

But the agency said that step only impacted the rule that was proposed this year, and the 2016 guidance remained in effect. GOP lawmakers then threatened legal action unless the guidance was rescinded. The commission — split evenly between Dem and GOP appointees — deadlocked earlier this month on repealing the 2016 guidance.

The brief argues the Legislature should be allowed to intervene for several reasons, including lawmakers’ interest in defending state law.

Read the motion:

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