A judge in Wisconsin found the state’s Elections Commission along with three of its commissioners in contempt of court for not complying with his ruling from December.
Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy, on Monday, issued fines to the Commission and its three Democratic members for not following through on his December order to purge some 200,000 people from the state’s voter rolls.
The Elections Commission will be fined $50 a day, and the commissioners $250 a day until they comply with his order, as the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported.
“I can’t be any clearer than this,” Malloy said. “They need to follow my order.”
At issue is a December ruling from Malloy that ordered the Commission to remove people from the voter rolls after they failed to respond to a request to update their information.
In October, the Wisconsin Elections Commission mailed notices to some 232,579 people it believed had moved and asked them to update their information, or they would be removed from the voter rolls. More than 230,000 did not respond to the notices.
The Commission planned to remove those individuals from the voter rolls in 2021, but three Wisconsin voters sued and argued that the voter purge should happen sooner.
Malloy agreed to hear the case in December and ruled that the Commission must remove those who had not responded immediately.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) weighed in at the time saying the move was “stifling the democratic process.”
I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes. This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process. https://t.co/SQDjdsQ6HW— Tony Evers (@Tony4WI) December 13, 2019
After Malloy’s ruling, the Democratic members of the Commission sought to challenge it in the District 4 Court of Appeals and decided not to take action on the purge until that court issued a ruling.
The decision to hold off on the purge until the appeals court ruled on the matter led Malloy to find the commissioners in contempt of court.
Conservatives argued that ensuring the Elections Commissions has the correct information protects election integrity. Meanwhile, others say the purge is designed to de-register minority candidates who would likely vote for Democratic candidates.
The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal looked at the list of voters who were supposed to be taken off the rolls and found that about 55% of them lived in municipalities that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 election.
Ben Wikler, the chair of the state’s Democratic Party, responded to news of Malloy’s ruling by calling for his followers to help ensure those who were purged register to vote again.
BREAKING: Right-wing judge rules for right-wing litigant on Wisconsin voter purge, orders 200k+ voters removed ASAP, holds Democratic members of WI Elections Commission in contempt, fines them $250/day till purge is complete.— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) January 13, 2020
Help Dems re-register voters! https://t.co/wRSt7EtOgD https://t.co/Xnj6bCHwx8
Wikler went on in a series of tweets to claim that conservatives were pushing the purge to hurt Democrats in the presidential election later this year.
Why is this all happening? It's simple: this is the GOP's strategy to win the election. Trump is terrified about losing Wisconsin. As his campaign advisor said in a closed-door briefing, "We're going to win Wisconsin and win the election or lose Wisconsin and lose the election."— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) January 13, 2020
The issue has become a hot button topic in Wisconsin, which is seen as a must-win state for Democrats after Trump won the state by a narrow margin of fewer than 23,000 votes.
The Commission is set to meet Tuesday to decide whether to begin removing voters from the rolls.