Wisconsin Supreme Court weighs removal of 130,000 from voter rolls

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 11:36 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 12:38 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul argued before the Wisconsin Supreme Court against purging 130,000 people from voter rolls in the hotly contested battleground state. The attorney for a conservative group argued that state law requires it and the voters should have been removed months ago.

The arguments Tuesday come just five weeks before the election in one of several closely watched lawsuits in Wisconsin. However, it wasn’t clear if the court would rule in time to affect the Nov. 3 election that was just five weeks away. Attorneys for both sides didn’t expect a decision until after the election.

Justices gave little indication during oral arguments Tuesday on how they may rule.

President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, making the fight over any change to the process of voting and who is able to vote all the more significant.

A conservative law firm was asking the Supreme Court to overturn a state appeals court’s ruling earlier in February that stopped the purging of the voters who had been identified as potentially having moved. A circuit court judge had ruled that the voters must be removed immediately, but the appeals court overturned that.

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.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of three voters, had asked the Supreme Court to decide the case before the November election. But the court slated it for its regular argument schedule, not a faster track, making it unlikely to rule in time to affect voters this year.

Absentee voting is underway in Wisconsin with more than 238,00 ballots returned already.

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