“In interpreting the Wisconsin Statutes, courts may not rewrite the plain language of the statutes the legislature has enacted,” the appeals court said. “Acceptance of the arguments of Plaintiffs would cause us to rewrite statutes enacted by the legislature, and that we cannot do.” It added that the ruling has been “reversed, and this matter is remanded to the circuit court for dismissal of plaintiffs’ complaint.”
The conservative group that filed the lawsuit, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, wrote that it will plan to appeal the ruling to the state’s Supreme Court.
“Wisconsin deserves clean elections in 2020. It is our intent to seek review in the Wisconsin Supreme Court to ensure that the Wisconsin Elections Commission complies with state law,” said group spokesperson Rick Esenberg in a statement.
The suit argued that the state election commission broke the law when it didn’t remove people from the voter rolls who didn’t respond within 30 days in October to indicate that they’ve moved. The agency said it was going to wait until after the November 2020 election before any voter was removed.
The appeals court also vacated an order from the same judge that found the Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt for not moving ahead with the voter roll purge. The case was sent back to the lower court and ordered it to be dismissed, reported The Associated Press.
“We appreciate the Court of Appeals decision and will move forward with the process approved by the members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission in June 2019 for handling mailings sent to potential movers,” the Wisconsin Elections Commission said in a statement on Friday. “The important thing for voters to know is that if you have moved, you need to be registered at your current address before you can vote. Eligible, registered voters who have not moved (or legally changed their names) can vote without having to reregister, even if we sent you a movers mailing in 2019.”
Wisconsin is viewed as a 2020 battleground state, meaning that the removal of 200,000 voters from rolls could have significant implications. President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by about 23,000 votes in 2016.
The affected voters were concentrated in areas that typically vote for Democrats, which prompted left-leaning groups to accuse the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty of trying to reduce Democratic voter turnout, reported The Associated Press. The plaintiff and other groups said they were trying to reduce voter fraud.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, whose agency represents the Elections Commission in the case, said the decision was “a win not only for the Wisconsinites who were nearly purged from the voter rolls, but also for our democracy,” AP reported.