Political News

Wisconsin officials held in contempt of court and fined for failure to purge voters

Posted January 13, 2020 6:29 p.m. EST

— Election officials in Wisconsin have been found in contempt of court after failing to remove thousands of voters from the state's rolls.

Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, Judge Paul Malloy issued his decision against the six-member commission for not removing roughly 200,000 outdated registrations from the state's election rolls. Malloy is also ordering the three commissioners, who are Democrats, who voted against the removal to be fined $250 a day and the overall commission $50 a day unless they comply.

The decision follows an earlier filing by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative law group, who initially wanted the commission fined $2,000 a day until the voters were removed.

"Court orders are not optional. It is astonishing to observe the Wisconsin Elections Commission act as if they are," Rick Esenberg, the president of WILL, said in a previous statement.

In a meeting earlier this year, the six-member commission deadlocked on whether to move forward with the removals. The commission is appealing the order to remove the voters, which was issued by Malloy in December.

The tie meant that the commission would not take any action now and would "await further direction from the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin," the commission said. "When those courts provide direction, the Commission will hold another meeting to discuss action to comply with the ruling."

Commission spokesman Reid Magney previously told CNN that the court order didn't set a deadline for the removal of voters and explained that, due to an already pending court decision, the commission was within its right to not take action.

The commission is expected to meet Tuesday morning to discuss whether to comply with the court order or continue waiting for the appeals process to play out. The meeting will come the same day President Donald Trump is set to speak in Milwaukee. In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes by less than 23,000 votes, or less than 1%, to defeat Hillary Clinton.

This battle was sparked when WILL initially filed a complaint with the commission in October, arguing that state law that requires the commission to remove from the active voting rolls voters who hadn't responded to a recent mailing, made as part of a regular effort to update rolls, within 30 days.

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