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Milwaukee Mayor Says 35K Milwaukee Residents Could Be Impacted In Voter Purge

Barrett Asked Government Officials To Protect System's Integrity

a primary election voter casts a provisional ballot
In this March 15, 2016 photo, a primary election voter casts a provisional ballot at a polling place in Westerville, Ohio. Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the city Elections Commission criticized an effort to remove voter registrations for Wisconsin residents who are thought to have moved.

Barrett announced Friday at Milwaukee City Hall he wants government officials to protect the integrity of the system.

Last Friday, Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy ordered up to 234,000 voter registrations be tossed from the state’s voting rolls because they may have moved.

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The Wisconsin Elections Commission didn’t come to an agreement Monday on how to address the ruling. The commission was divided with a 3-3 vote, which means the state won’t take action on the ruling for now.

Malloy sided with three voters in a lawsuit filed by the conservative law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty or WILL. They argued that the state Elections Commission was violating state law by not removing people from the voting rolls who didn’t respond to an October mailing within 30 days.

The state uses the Electronic Registration Information Center or ERIC. ERIC uses data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security and the U.S. Postal Service to see when a registered voter has moved.

Voters who were flagged based on ERIC’s data were sent a postcard to retain their registration records.

Barrett said during the press conference that out of the 35,000 Milwaukee residents flagged, 186 people responded, and 1,327 registered somewhere else. He continued and said many residents thought the postcard was spam mail or a scam.

Barrett stressed that residents shouldn’t have to face additional barriers to voting.

“An individual’s voting registration status is important and should never be viewed as a disposable commodity.” Barrett said. “It provides access to voting which represents the foundation of democracy.”

According to the city Election Commission, 35,000 of Milwaukee’s registered voters could be impacted. That’s 1 in 10 voters in the city.

A large number of people who would be removed from voter rolls are in Milwaukee and Madison.

“Some might say Milwaukee and Madison are more transient cities than other municipalities in the state,” Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said. “I think that’s very speculative.”

Opponents of registration removals have filed challenges to the ruling in state and federal court. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit in federal court this week.

A group of attorneys announced Friday they are also filing a legal challenge on behalf of Wisconsin voters who are impacted by the voter purge.