Wisconsin Supreme Court says don't purge voters from rolls

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FILE- In this Nov. 3, 2020, file photo people line up to vote outside the Greenfield Community Center on Election Day in Greenfield, Wis. The Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with Democrats on Friday, April 9, 2020, and ruled that the state elections commission should not remove from the rolls voters flagged as possibly having moved, something conservatives have wanted done for nearly two years. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state elections commission should not remove from the rolls voters flagged as possibly having moved, something Democrats fought and conservatives have wanted done for nearly two years.

The court’s 5-2 ruling means about 69,000 people on the list of likely movers will not have their voter registrations deactivated. When the lawsuit was first brought in 2019, about 234,000 were on the list. Of those who remain, none voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. No voters had their registrations deactivated while the legal fight was pending.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative advocacy group, argued that the state elections commission broke the law when it did not remove voters from the rolls who did not respond within 30 days to a mailing in 2019 indicating they had been identified as someone who potentially moved.

But the court said the job of removing voters from the rolls was up to local municipal elections officials, not the state commission. It ordered the case dismissed.

Two of the court's conservative justices, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Justice Brian Hagedorn, joined with liberal justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky in the majority. Hagedorn, who has sided with liberals in other high profile cases, wrote the majority opinion.

Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler dissented. The two Bradleys are not related.

The issue received a lot of attention before the presidential race.

Because voters who moved were concentrated in more Democratic areas of the state, liberals argued that the lawsuit was meant to lower turnout on their side. Republicans countered that it was about reducing the likelihood of voter fraud and making sure that people who moved are not able to vote from their previous addresses.