WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Vote.org — America’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan voting registration and get-out-the-vote technology platform — filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought the Wisconsin Institute For Law and Liberty (WILL), a conservative legal group, against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) challenging its approval of the National Mail Voter Registration Form for allegedly failing to comply with Wisconsin law. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Wisconsin voter, alleges that the National Mail Voter Registration Form — which 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 permitted under state law. Namely, WILL asserts that the form fails to ask for legally required information pertaining to a voter’s residency and whether a voter has a criminal record. Conversely, 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 includes state-specific instructions indicating that in Wisconsin, voters are “not required” to list their race or ethnic group or their party affiliation. WILL 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.
In seeking to intervene in the case, Vote.org aims to defend the use of the National Mail Voter Registration Form upon which it relies in order to register voters by paper application in Wisconsin. Vote.org asserts that WILL’s “suit threatens Vote.org’s ability to help register these prospective Wisconsin voters—many of whom are unable to register online—and could limit voter registration for Wisconsinites going forward.” Vote.org notes that, while online registration is also an option in Wisconsin, many voters lack a proper Wisconsin driver’s license or ID and must instead register by submitting a completed National Mail Voter Registration Form to their local elections board. Furthermore, Vote.org explains that the form’s “simplicity is precisely what makes it such a powerful tool for reaching historically underserved and underrepresented voters” and that a ban on the use of the form in Wisconsin would be detrimental to the organization’s voter registration efforts.