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Wisconsin Voter Roll Lawsuit Roils Media

A lawsuit [1] filed by a conservative legal organization riled the media this week in Wisconsin, where the group said that voters should be taken off the rolls after thirty days of non-compliance. The organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission for breaking its own laws.

The commission allegedly waited for up to two years to deactivate voters who may have moved, but WILL’s lawsuit noted, “State law requires voters to respond within 30 days of receiving the October mailing or be deactivated.” According to the Associated Press [2], the commission rejected a complaint from the group before and claimed the commission was in compliance with state laws.

The lawsuit said that the commission should remove the 234,000 voters from its voter registration list because those voters had not responded if they had moved within the thirty-day limit. Instead, the commission voted to extend the deadline to two years.

The local media, as well as the Associated Press [2], portrayed the lawsuit as partisan and voter intimidation. The Associated Press’s article, in its first paragraph, appeared to support keeping the names on the registration list when it said that the lawsuit lead to the “fear [it] could dampen turnout among Democrats in the 2020 presidential race.” It did point out that WILL said there was “no hardship” in declaring if a voter has moved or not and nor it is difficult to register on the day of elections in Wisconsin, but that was at the end of the article. Other Wisconsin news outlets parroted similar talking points like the Associated Press, portraying it as a voter “purge.”

Despite the media’s portrayal of the issue, WILL’s lawsuit appeared to be concerned about voter registration and voter integrity, not voter intimidation. The organization noted that registering to vote is not difficult in the state, as a photo ID can be presented and used to register then and there on the appointed election day. However, much of that information was buried in the articles like in the case of the Associated Press’s article, which is an example of media bias.