The highest court in Wisconsin issued a split decision this week impacting the manner by which voter rolls are updated in future elections.
According to the Associated Press, the state’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Wisconsin Elections Commission should not remove from the rolls those voters who have been flagged for having possibly moved to a different location.
Background on the case
The 5-2 decision came when two of the court’s conservative justices sided with three of their liberal colleagues.
By and large, conservatives have argued for the importance of maintaining accurate and updated voter rolls in an effort to limit the possibility of election fraud. Progressives, on the other hand, have insisted that such efforts amount to a thinly veiled attempt to suppress the vote.
The case decided in this week’s ruling dates back to 2019, when a conservative group filed a lawsuit attempting to initiate an update of the state’s voter rolls. Plaintiffs argued that Wisconsin law makes the state’s elections commission responsible for maintaining the database.
Later that year, the Ozaukee County circuit court agreed and ruled that the commission must remove names of voters who were believed to have moved. The following year, however, a state appellate court overturned that decision.
Following that ruling, the matter advanced to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“No credible argument”
On Friday, the state’s top court ruled against the conservative group by upholding the decision of the appellate court and placing the duty of updating voter rolls on the state’s local election clerks.
Justices wrote in the majority opinion that there is “no credible argument” that the state elections commission ought to be responsible for the job.
As for the two dissenting justices, they argued that even though local election clerks are given the responsibility of maintaining voter rolls under state law, it is up to the elections commission to make sure that the work is being carried out effectively.
The majority disagreed, however, writing that it would be a “remarkable expansion of the Commission’s powers and responsibilities” to task it with updating the entire state’s database.
When the lawsuit was first filed, roughly 234,000 people in the state had been flagged for having possibly moved, but the elections commission claims that none of them voted in November’s presidential election, which ended in a narrow victory for President Joe Biden. Currently, the number of flagged voters has dropped to about 70,000.