The only thing more American than democracy is some good old-fashioned, court-ordered voter suppression.
NBC News reports that a judge in Wisconsin found the state’s bipartisan election commission to be in contempt and ordered them to immediately purge up to 209,000 names from its voter rolls. They face up to a $250 fine for every day they don’t comply. The state Justice Department asked Judge Paul Malloy to stay his order of contempt, as his ruling is currently pending appeal, but that request was denied.
Now, reader, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with me? Are there black people in Wisconsin?” To which I would respond with, “Maybe?” This case matters mainly because we’re in the midst of an election year and Wisconsin is a battleground state. In 2016 the currently impeached President won the state with fewer than 23,000 votes. For reference, that’s only slightly more than the number of people who saw Cats in theaters.
The case was brought to the courts by Republicans (obviously) who said that they wanted to ensure that people who moved are not able to vote from their old addresses. They felt the commission broke the law when they did not purge voters from the rolls who didn’t respond within 30 days to a mailer from October verifying their address. Democrats are currently fighting against the case as many of the voters who would be affected by the purge come from the more Democratic parts of the state. A federal lawsuit was also filed by the League of Woman Voters of Wisconsin to stop the purge. They argue it’s a constitutional violation to purge voters without giving them prior notice.
Last month, Judge Molloy ruled in favor of the Republicans. The commission was unsure when to start the purge, wanting to wait until after the November election due to errors that occurred the last time they gathered data on voters who potentially moved.
The appeals court has stated it won’t take action as there is a pending request for the state Supreme Court to take the case. As of now, the high court has yet to give any indication of what it plans to do. It should be noted that if purged, voters will still be able to register at a polling station, provided they’ve been made aware they’ve been purged and bring the proper documentation.