Updates Regarding ERIC Movers Litigation and Election Security Funding

Priority

Timely Attention Required

Date

To

Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission

From

Meagan Wolfe, Administrator

I would like to provide brief updates regarding litigation related to the ERIC Movers mailing as well as possible additional federal funding for state and local election security efforts.

Litigation Update

1.  Zignego et al. v. Wisconsin Elections Commission et al.

On Friday, December 13, 2019, a hearing was held in the Zignego v. WEC lawsuit regarding the use of ERIC mover data.  Ozaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Malloy issued an oral ruling on Friday directing the WEC to deactivate the records of any voter who did not respond to the October mover’s mailing within 30 days.  The Court’s written order was issued today.  The Department of Justice filed an appeal and a motion to stay the ruling with the Court of Appeals.  The stay request asks the Court of Appeals to delay the deactivation of these voter registrations until a ruling is issued in the appeal.  We do not currently know if the motion to stay will be granted by the Court, but we will communicate updates regarding that process after a ruling is made.  

As you may have read, the Elections Commission also discussed the court decision at its meeting yesterday and did not issue any directives to staff or municipalities pending a determination by the Court of Appeals regarding the request for a stay.  At this point, there is no action required on the part of municipal or county clerks.  The WEC will send a communication to local election officials when any next steps are determined.

2.  League of Women Voters of Wisconsin et al. v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, et. al

Also today, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and two individuals filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that deactivation of voter registrations based on a non-response to the ERIC Movers mailing is an unconstitutional violation of voters’ due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The plaintiffs are seeking temporary permanent injunctions prohibiting enjoining WEC from deactivating, canceling, or otherwise changing the registration status of any registered Wisconsin voter on the basis of their presence on the 2019 ERIC Movers list without providing additional notice to those voters.   

Federal Election Security Funding Update

The media reported Monday that budget negotiations in Congress have resulted in a tentative agreement for funding which includes a $425 million allocation to states for election security.  The agreement and the terms of the funding have not yet been finalized.  Initial reports indicate that the funding will be released to states through the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and that receipt of the funds will require a 20% match by states.  The legislation has not yet been passed or signed into law.  We will send a communication to local election officials to discuss next steps if and when funding is made available but, in the meantime, I wanted to share this potential good news for state and local election administration.  

If you have questions regarding these developments, please contact the Help Desk at 608-261-2028 or elections@wi.gov.