Months after the state resolved a long-running dispute over its voter list, Wisconsin’s Elections Commission is poised to send out a routine mailer that could remove tens of thousands of inactive voters from its rolls.
The mailer — which is a postcard sent out every two years — will be delivered to more than 187,000 people who haven’t voted since November of 2016, a four-year span that covers more than a dozen elections.
In a state like Wisconsin, where the past two presidential races have been decided by around 20,000 votes out of more than 3 million cast, changes to the voting list can make national news.
That’s not the case with this latest mailer, which — at least so far — is flying under the radar.
“Generally, people who get this are people who have moved or just aren’t interested in voting anymore,” said Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson Reid Magney. “But we occasionally do get several thousand people out of this who will let us know, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m still here … So keep me on the list.'”
The list in question is different than the one that sparked a year-and-a-half legal fight that was resolved in April by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The state is scheduled to send the postcards on June 15. People who receive the postcards who want to remain registered should return them to the state.
“And if they don’t respond, then they are moved from the active to the inactive list, which means that they would have to reregister if they wanted to vote,” Magney said.
Clerks will have until July 15 to update their voter lists based on who responds. The Elections Commission will then remove those voters from the state’s registration list on July 31.
This is a perfectly normal and acceptable process to maintain the integrity and cleanliness of our voter rolls. After all, if the state has an indication that someone might have moved out state or died, then why wouldn’t we want to remove them from the rolls to avoid fraud or mistakes? And if they are removed in error, Wisconsin allows people to register at the polls. It’s a tiny hassle, but negligible when balanced against the benefit of cleaning up the rolls.
Furthermore, six weeks from mailing to purge is a reasonable amount of time for people to respond and for clerks to update the rolls. All. Perfectly. Acceptable.
Yet… in 2019 and 2020 this was a major issue. Liberals and the Elections Commission claimed that this normal sanitization of our electoral process was unjust and that there wasn’t possible enough time for the clerks to make changes before the election. It went to court. People spewed spittle on the interwebs about the impropriety of the process. In the end, the names were never removed from the rolls prior to election day.
Simple. In 2020, the Democrats were expecting heavy turnout on their side and the liberals on the Elections Commission wanted to clear the decks for every possible attempt at fraud. In 2022, the Republicans are expecting a strong turnout and the liberal on the Elections Commission are willing to return to normal processes.
The WEC should complete this routing sanitization of the voter rolls. And it never should have been an issue in 2019/2020. The fact that it was tells us everything we need to know about the people who run that commission.