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Lawsuit: Wisconsin Elections Commission Illegally Used Unauthorized Voter Registration Forms

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A Wisconsin-based legal group is accusing the state’s elections commission (WEC) of illegally using a voter registration form not authorized by state law.

Filed in the Waukesha County Circuit Court by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) on behalf of a state resident, the lawsuit “urges the court to declare” that the use of the National Mail Voter Registration Form in Wisconsin “is illegal and orders WEC to withdraw its approval of the Form.” WILL also contends that “[t]he Form adds extra criteria not authorized by statute or rule” and “simultaneously fail[s] to include all items mandated by Wisconsin statute (Wis. Stat. § 6.33(1)).”

As described by the U.S. Election Assitance Commission, the National Mail Voter Registration Form “can be used to register U.S. citizens to vote, to update registration information due to a change of name, make a change of address or to register with a political party.”

According to a WILL press release, “WEC’s Election Manual states that the Form is approved for voter registration in Wisconsin.” But while “most states accept the Form, made available by the United States Election Assistance Commission, Wisconsin is not required to allow the form to be used in [the] state.”

“[T]he Form does not request information required by state law—such as information relating to residency and criminal record, among others,” the press release explains. “Additionally, because the Form requests information- relating to race and political party- not authorized by state statute, WEC must engage in rulemaking before approving these additional items.”

WILL originally sent a letter to WEC in late July that explained why use of the form in Wisconsin was illegal, with the legal group also requesting records under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law “showing when and by whom the Form was approved for use in Wisconsin as set forth in WEC’s Election Administration Manual.”

“[G]iven that the Form fails to comply with Wisconsin law, the letter warned that absent either a legally sufficient explanation from WEC or withdrawal of approval of the form, a lawsuit would follow,” the WILL lawsuit reads. “To date WEC has not provided the records requested by Plaintiff’s counsel. WEC did send an email on 9/14/22 responding to the Open Records Request but WEC did not identify or produce any documents showing when and by whom the Form was approved for use in Wisconsin. WEC has provided no other substantive response to the letter.”

“Wisconsin law is abundantly clear on the required content of voter registration forms in Wisconsin, yet WEC has somehow approved the use of a form that fails to meet those requirements,” said WILL Deputy Counsel, Anthony LoCoco in a statement. “It is a shame that, once again, a voter has to go to court simply to ensure that WEC follows the Legislature’s lawful commands.”


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