A Judge May Have Purged Wisconsin Voter Rolls, But They Still Have Same-Day Registration
Yesterday, Judge Paul Malloy ruled that the state of Wisconsin must purge 234,000 voters who "may have moved recently" from the state's voter rolls, the majority of whom reside in Democratic strongholds.
The ruling was in response to complaint from the right-wing law firm, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, alleging that they needed to purge the voter rolls of people who had not responded to recent mailing. Why? Because the fewer people who can vote, the better Republicans do.
"State agencies comprised of political appointees and unelected staff do not have the authority to invent or amend policy contrary to state law," the institute's president and general counsel, Rick Esenberg, said in a statement at the time.
The commission, however, said it was allowing voters to stay on the rolls through the spring of 2021 based on a June vote by the commission."The commission is confident that it is complying with Wisconsin law," Meagan Wolfe, the state's chief election official, said in a statement at the time.
Given that Donald Trump only beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by less than 23,000 votes, this may seem like a cause for alarm — and it is. But among the many wonderful things to be found in Wisconsin — supper clubs that look like the 1970s inside, the Mars Cheese Castle, so much discount cheese in general, the Laverne and Shirley tour, Milwaukee in general (after all, it is Algonquin for "the good land") — is same-day voter registration.
YEP. Wisconsin just so happens to be one of the few states that allows people to register at their polling place on Election Day, right before they vote. For some reason, the CNN article neglected to mention this, as have many of the other articles I've seen about this voter purge. But it's true! See?
Because they have this protection, getting kicked off of the voter rolls doesn't mean people can't vote. That is why same-day registration is so important and why it should exist in every state. Automatic registration, of course, would be even better, but same day registration is pretty fantastic as well. We have it in Illinois, too! That is, in fact, how I registered for the 2016 primary (I was registered, but not as a Democrat).
I know a lot of Democrats who are opposed to same day registration specifically because they were upset that people like me, who had previously been registered as Independents or Greens or just kept to activism and left electoral politics entirely up to them, registered as Dems to vote for Bernie Sanders. I know a lot who are opposed to it now! Hell, I had someone scream at me for two hours about how it would be shitty for me to vote in the primary this time around, regardless of who I vote for, because I'm too far left. But LOOK AT THIS. Because of this law, because this is in place, this judge and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty cannot ratfuck the election in Donald Trump's favor.
It is my fervent belief that Democrats will get Wisconsin back, along with all of the other rust belt states. Not because Trump voters have "Trumpgrets" and won't vote for him this time around, not because Dems have worked to reel in the supposed "white working class vote," but because free trade isn't as much of an issue this time around, and Trump's NAFTA 2.0 is pretty bad for workers — and, bonus, every Democrat running has announced their opposition to it for this reason. I don't think the problem in those areas was so much the people who were dazzled by Trump's racism and xenophobia and voted for him, or the people who voted for Jill Stein, I think the problem was all the registered voters who stayed home. And there were a lot of them. I think all we have to do is not be actively shitty about trade and labor issues and we'll be good. WE CAN DO IT!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse