Milwaukee Mayor and Election Commission criticize effort to drop voters

Posted at 4:45 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2020-02-12 17:12:43-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett criticized the decision to deactivate the registrations of more than 200,000 voters in Wisconsin.

Last week, an Ozaukee County judge ordered voters dropped from the state's rolls if they did not respond to a letter asking whether they moved.

"We are prepared to challenge in any and every way that is available to us any attempt to wrongfully inactivate voter registrations in this city," Barrett said during a press conference.

He pointed to the statute behind the ruling that sparked controversy. It calls for "reliable information" a voter changed their address.

"Data used to identify voters by this process has proven to be unreliable," said Barrett.

"The fact that people received a piece of mailing that mailing provided no information that the registration will be inactivated if they didn't respond to it, and whether or not individuals even receive that mailing is pretty questionable," said Neil Albrecht, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, mailers were sent out to 35,592 people in the City of Milwaukee. That is nearly twice Madison's total and is more than Eau Claire, Green Bay, and La Crosse combined.

"If we think in terms of 35,000 people who could be purged and given that the last presidential election was decided by only 24,000 votes if that, then this could dramatically impact the margins," said Atiba Ellis, a law professor at Marquette University.

Ellis says the judge's ruling could have an immediate impact, well in advance of the 2020 election.

"I think the risk of these voter purges could get people worried about their registration status. It could get people concerned about whether this is motivated for partisan reasons rather than ensuring that the election is working the way it should," said Ellis.

When it comes down to it Ellis and election official urge people to take it upon themselves to make sure they are registered to vote.

You can check your information and register to vote by clicking on this link My Voter Info.