Republican lawmakers are circulating a letter to demand the Wisconsin Elections Commission require clerks to remove citizens labeled incompetent under guardianship from the voter rolls and stop them from voting in future elections.

But in a letter to lawmakers also shared with WEC, disability rights advocates say the lawmakers are misinterpreting state law regarding guardianship.

Sen. André Jacque, of De Pere, and Rep. Janel Brandtjen, of Menomonee Falls, in the letter reference a meeting last week of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, which Brandtjen chairs. During the meeting, Thomas More Society attorney Erick Kaardal said individuals labeled incompetent haven’t been removed from the voter rolls or WisVote because WEC is not properly removing them. Brandtjen and Jacque in the letter say they do not want voters to be taken advantage of.

“We only want the best for our citizens under guardianship care and do not want them taken advantage of by easily being persuaded into voting for specific candidates. Issuing a ballot when individuals have been put under the protection of a court-ordered guardianship is unprofessional and inappropriate,” they write.

The lawmakers charge WEC with not taking action to remove incompetent voters from the rolls, saying the agency is “literally condoning elder abuse.”

Brandtjen and Jacque argue that’s against the law and effectively allowing people incapable of understanding the electoral process to continue voting. The letter also states individuals marked “incompetent” by the courts are labeled as such in the state’s online court records database, CCAP.

The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition countered in a letter that isn’t true, and argues being under guardianship doesn’t automatically disqualify a ward from voting.

“Wisconsin has a limited guardianship system, which means the court can decide the ward may retain some civil rights (like the right to vote),” the letter states.

The group says every case is different depending on the “capacities and incapacities of the ward.” They also note there are two kinds of guardianship under state law: guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person. It also adds some people only have a guardianship of the estate, which does not affect their right to vote.

The group also argued statewide data on the number of people under guardianship and the terms of their guardianship is not available to the public.

“The details of individual cases are private and confidential. Information about individuals’ guardianship cases is not publicly available on CCAP,” the letter states.

The group adds that information is only available to people who can show the custodian of said records they need the information.

See Jacque and Brandtjen’s letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/220914WECletter.pdf

See the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/220914wisconsindisabilityvotecoalitionletter.pdf

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