WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Sept. 15, the Wisconsin Institute For Law and Liberty (WILL) — a conservative legal group — filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Wisconsin voter against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) challenging its approval of a voter registration form for allegedly failing to comply with Wisconsin law. In its complaint, WILL alleges that this form — which is known as the National Mail Voter Registration Form and is provided to states by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission — is missing certain components that are mandated by Wisconsin law while also containing other elements that are not allowed under state law. Specifically, WILL argues that the form fails to ask for legally required information pertaining to a voter’s residency and whether a voter has a criminal record. On the other hand, WILL also claims that the form requests items that are “not required by statute,” including information about a voter’s race and political party affiliation (however, in contrast to WILL’s assertions, the National Mail Voter Registration Form’s online portal indicates that in Wisconsin, voters are “not required” to list their race or ethnic group or their party affiliation). WILL contends that the use of the form harms voters and asserts that the WEC’s “failure to comply with statutory requirements around the creation and use of voter registration forms in Wisconsin hinders uniformity and predictability around the administration of elections and increases the risk of error.” Additionally, WILL claims that the WEC has no authority to “ignore the lawful commands of the Legislature.” The plaintiff requests that the court declare the form illegal under Wisconsin law and order the WEC to withdraw its approval of the form for use in future voter registration activity throughout Wisconsin.
This new lawsuit is part of a broader, long-term legal campaign undertaken by WILL and other conservative groups to suppress voting and meddle in voter registration efforts throughout Wisconsin. In fact, this year alone, WILL has sued to end the use of a mobile voting van in Racine and successfully eradicated the use of drop boxes in the state. Notably, the federal registration form being challenged in this lawsuit is not the only way Wisconsin voters can register to vote — they may opt to register online, by mail, in person at a municipal clerk’s office using a state form or even on Election Day at their polling place.