Wisconsin Group Tried to Purge Nearly 17,000 Eligible Voters Because Voter Suppression Is the Republican Way

Illustration for article titled Wisconsin Group Tried to Purge Nearly 17,000 Eligible Voters Because Voter Suppression Is the Republican Way
Photo: Niyazz (Shutterstock)

Republicans don’t want non-Republicans voting. This statement is as factual as “Two plus two equals four.”

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Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure Democrats would also not fall into a deep depression if every Republican voter on Earth suddenly caught the Thanos snap, but they’re not the ones actively trying to limit voter access, delegitimize legally cast votes and purge registered voters from the rolls for nonsensical reasons.

Let’s talk about voter purging.

We’ve seen the GOP erase or try to erase eligible voters from the rolls ahead of elections in Georgia, Texas, Georgia again, Florida, still Georgia, Wisconsin and plenty of other states including fucking Georgia at least a half dozen more times.

But let’s talk about Wisconsin.

The Guardian reports that a group of voter suppression enthusiasts from the Cheese State almost successfully purged nearly 17,000 eligible voters from the state’s voting rolls ahead of the 2020 election and newly released data published by the Wisconsin Elections Commission shows how that purge would have dramatically affected the election results.

It all began when the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty—also known as “Will” because conservatives are really cute when they try their hardest to be clever—whined their way to convincing a county judge to remove more than 200,000 people Republican officials suspected of moving from the homes they were registered to vote in.

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Democrats on the commission were basically like, “Fuck all that noise” and they refused to comply with the judge’s order, “believing that they didn’t have the authority to immediately remove the voters and that the underlying data wasn’t reliable, and [they] wanted to give voters until April 2021 to confirm their address before they removed them,” the Guardian reports. Wisconsin relied on state government records when they sent postcards to residents they suspected had moved requesting that they confirm their address. Will wanted to purge anyone who didn’t respond within 30 days. An appeals court backed the blue (but not in the way Republicans mean it) and sided with the Democrats and blocked the purges ahead of the election.

Here’s what the commission’s new data shows as reported by the Guardian:

In Wisconsin, of the 232,579 people who were flagged for potential removal from the rolls in October 2019, 16,698 people – 7.2% of the list – wound up confirming they wanted to remain registered to vote at the same address. Nearly 11,000 of those people voted in the November election (Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by just over 20,000 votes in the state).

“7.2% never moved. That is a huge error rate,” Mark Thomsen, a Democrat on the bipartisan Wisconsin elections commission, said during a meeting earlier this month.

“17,000 voters is a lot of voters,” said Ann Jacobs, another Democrat on the commission.

Richard Esenberg, Will’s president and general counsel, however, said the new data was actually evidence that Wisconsin’s process worked. “If the number is 7%, then I think it’s fair to say that the movers list was reliable for the purpose that it is being used for, ie, to ask voters to confirm their registrations,” he wrote in an email.

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See, this is why Will Smith is the only Will I recognize.

The thing Esenberg and Republican officials across the nation are pretending they don’t understand is that they are constantly producing solutions in search of problems. These voter purges are nothing more than disingenuous make-believe attempts at combating America’s great voter fraud problem that does not fucking exist. And their “solutions” only cause more problems for voters.

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The Guardian reached out to more than 200,000 voters who were flagged as having moved. This included college students going to school out of state, people who had mail forwarded to other addresses but still lived in Wisconsin and others who, at some point, moved out of state temporarily. One official said that because DMV records are also used to track registered voters, a person with a car registered to an address that is different from the one where they live could be flagged as a mover.

The point is that a system set up to purge voters based on unreliable data and one that hinges on people responding to a postcard to confirm their address—as if there aren’t a million and one reasons why someone may not get around to responding or even seeing the postcard within 30 days—is a stupid-ass system that is only good for stopping people from voting.

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And, of course, it’s worth mentioning that the new data reveals racial disparities on which voters are more vulnerable to unfair purging—but you already knew that, didn’t you?

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It’s almost as if the same party that embarked on a whole propaganda campaign regarding a rigged election, is out here trying to rig elections—go figure.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

And still not one fucking comment about the “For the People Act” from a writer on TheRoot. Not one word encouraging people to request their representatives vote for HR1 or their Senators pass S1, the two bills that comprise the act. If this passes and becomes law, all the BS laws the writers here like to piss and moan about become meaningless as the federal law will supercede them. And this addresses all of the Republican’s favorite methods of disenfranchisement, including gerrymandering and keeping felons from getting their right to vote back. 

Or anything encouraging people request their Senators abolish the filibuster, since Turkey Neck has said he plans to use the filibuster to block S1's passage. With a filibuster, it will take 60 votes to pass. Without a filibuster, it just takes a majority.