Thousands in county on voter purge list

Mequon, Grafton, Port have most ‘movers’ that Ozaukee judge said must be removed from rolls
Ozaukee Press staff

Nearly 3,000 Ozaukee County residents are on the so-called “movers list,” those whose addresses may no longer be valid for voting purposes, which an Ozaukee County judge ordered to be struck, setting off a political and legal firestorm in the state.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, when a statewide primary election for the state Supreme Court will be held, poll workers will let them know that the state thinks they may have moved.

  “If a voter appears at their polling place and has a watermark of “Have you moved?” next to their poll book entry,” a memo from the Elections Commission to local clerks says, “the election inspector should ask the voter to certify that the address in the poll book is still the voter’s current home address.”

If the answer is yes, the memo says, the voter should sign the poll book. If the answer is no, the poll worker, using a script provided by the commission, should check whether the voter is in the correct polling place and tell the voter to complete an election-day registration using their new address.

An analysis of the Wisconsin Elections Commission list by the Ozaukee Press shows that more than a quarter of “movers” in the county are people with Mequon addresses, at 826. Grafton has the second largest group at 599.

Among other Ozaukee County communities:

• Belgium —120.

• Cedarburg —517.

• Fredonia —113, including 11 people living in the Town of Farmington in Washington County but who have Fredonia addresses.

• Port Washington — 535.

• Saukville — 229.

The Elections Commission last year notified 232,500 Wisconsin residents that records indicate they may have moved and that they had 21 months to let the commission know the address was valid.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute Law of Liberty in Milwaukee, representing three state residents, including Belgium resident David Opitz, sued in Ozaukee County Court, saying state law required that those on the list should be given just 30 days to notify the state before being removed.

Ozaukee Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy agreed and ordered the Elections Commission to alert the so-called movers that they had 30 days or face having their addresses purged from the list.

The Elections Commission — consisting of three Republicans and three Democrats — deadlocked on whether to follow through on Malloy’s order, prompting WILL to seek a contempt of court order, which Malloy issued on Jan. 13.

Malloy ordered that the three Democratic commission members each be fined $250 per day and the commission as a whole be fined $50 per day until they comply with his order.

The next day the District 4 Court of Appeals in Madison stayed Malloy’s contempt order but has so far not ruled on its merits. 

WILL has asked that the state Supreme Court rule on the matter but it so far has not agreed to take the case.

The Elections Commission has argued that the information on which the list is based, which comes from Department of Motor Vehicles and Postal Service records, is unreliable and that the responsibility for maintaining voter registration lists belongs to local clerks, not the commission.

Common on the movers list are college students who move frequently or who have legal addresses in both the college town where they study and in their hometown, people with vacation homes and those who register vehicles in more than one place, at home and at a business, for instance.

The issue is important to political partisans as President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in the 2016 election by just 26,000 votes.

Republicans say it’s important to keep registered voter lists accurate while Democrats say removing the addresses could unintentionally disenfranchise some people. 

Voters can check their registration status at They also can go to their local municipal clerk’s office or register at their polling place on election day with a valid ID.

The only local primary race on Feb. 18 is in part of the Town of Fredonia as five candidates have filed to fill two seats on the Random Lake School Board.

Candidates who will be on the ballot are incumbent Elizabeth Kocher, Laura Meyer, Charles J. Mueller, Renie Rathke and incumbent Russell E. Saueressig.

The top four vote getters will advance to the April 7 election.

Also on the Feb. 18 primary ballot will be a nonpartisan statewide Supreme Court race.

Incumbent Daniel Kelly, who was appointed in 2016, is being challenged by Marquette law professor Edward A. Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky. The top two finishers will advance to the April 7 election.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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