Wis­con­sin judge or­ders up to 209K voter names be deleted

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

PORT WASH­ING­TON, Wis. — A Wis­con­sin judge on Mon­day found the state’s bi­par­ti­san elec­tions com­mis­sion to be in con­tempt and or­dered it to be­gin re­mov­ing up to 209,000 names from the state’s voter rolls or face fines for each day it doesn’t.

Ozau­kee County Cir­cuit Judge Paul Mal­loy said in his rul­ing that “time is of the essence in this case” and can­not wait for an ap­peals court or the state Supreme Court to de­cide the case. He also seemed peeved that com­mis­sion­ers hadn’t be­gun de­ac­ti­vat­ing the voter reg­is­tra­tions as he or­dered in De­cem­ber.

“I can­not be clearer on this. They need to fol­low the or­der,” Mal­loy said.

The state Jus­tice Depart­ment asked Mal­loy to put his or­der of con­tempt on hold pend­ing an ap­peal of his rul­ing, but the judge de­nied the re­quest. Mal­loy held in con­tempt the six­per­son com­mis­sion and its three Demo­cratic mem­bers, who pre­vi­ously voted against mov­ing ahead with the purge. Those three would each face a $250 fine for ev­ery day they don’t com­ply, but the three Re­pub­li­can mem­bers wouldn’t. The com­mis­sion as a whole, how­ever, faces $50 fines ev­ery day the purge doesn’t hap­pen.

Mal­loy was ap­pointed to the bench in 2002 by thenGov. Scott McCal­lum, a Re­pub­li­can, and he has been elected three times.

The case is be­ing closely watched, as Wis­con­sin is a bat­tle­ground state that Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. Democrats are fight­ing the law­suit, say­ing the purge would un­fairly af­fect their vot­ers. Repub­li­cans say they merely want to en­sure that peo­ple who have moved are not able to vote from their old ad­dresses.

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