Wisconsin lock boxes
© Scott Olson/Getty Images
Wisconsin lock boxes with ballots stored in a guarded room prior to recount last November
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state elections commission should not remove voters from voting rolls who might have moved residences.

In a 5-2 decision, the high court ruled that state law authorizes municipal election officials rather than the state election commission to change an individual's registration status. Writing for the court, Judge Brian Hagedorn said that while state law "requires that the registration status be changed for those who move out of their municipality, it gives this responsibility to municipal election officials, not to the [state] Commission."

The dissent argued that voter role maintenance falls within the purview of the election commission under state law.

"Applying the legislature's plain language, to 'maintain' the official registration list means [Wisconsin Election Commission] must ensure its accuracy," Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote. "An interpretation that permits WEC to escape its statutory obligation to ensure the accuracy of the voter rolls would be absurd."

The ruling puts an end to a legal fight that began in November 2019, when the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit against the state commission on behalf of three Wisconsin voters, arguing that it had violated state law by allowing voter registrations at old addresses to remain active beyond 30 days.

A state circuit judge then ordered the commission to clean up the voter rolls by removing registrations from outdated addresses, though a subsequent appeal overruled the circuit court's order to the commission. Friday's ruling upholds the appellate court's reversal in favor of the elections commission and dismisses the case.

Following the Friday ruling, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said in a statement, "This is a disappointing setback for those who expect Wisconsin state agencies to follow the law. The Court held today that the legislature created a duty and failed to provide an effective way for that duty to be carried out or enforced by voters," continuing, "We respectfully disagree."

A February report by the election commission showed that 71,579 voters were designated by the state as "movers," though that number is now at about 69,000, a commission spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

The spokesperson said that none of the 69,000 voted in any of the four regular elections or one special election conducted in 2020, including the presidential contest.