Wisconsin Judge Deems Use of National Mail Voter Registration Form Unlawful

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 5, a Wisconsin judge ruled that the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s (WEC) use of a federal voter registration form — known as the National Mail Voter Registration Form — violates Wisconsin law. 

The form, which allows voters to register by mail, is provided to states by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Prior to today’s ruling, 47 states — including Wisconsin — accepted the form, making it a popular choice for third-party voter registration groups that serve diverse groups of prospective voters.

Today’s ruling comes as part of a 2022 lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Institute For Law and Liberty (WILL) — a conservative legal group — on behalf of an individual voter alleging that WEC’s approval of the form fails to comply with Wisconsin law. In particular, WILL’s legal challenge contended that the form is missing certain items that are mandated by Wisconsin law, including information about a voter’s residency and whether a voter has a criminal record, while also containing other elements that are not allowed under state law. 

In the order ruling in favor of the conservative group, the judge did not rule on whether the substantive contents of the form itself comply with Wisconsin law. Rather, the judge held that WEC never approved the state’s use of the National Mail Voter Registration Form as it is required to do under Wisconsin law. “WEC has failed in this most basic duty by allowing the National Form to be used in Wisconsin where WEC has never actually proscribed its use,” the order states. The order notes that until WEC properly authorizes the use of the form, it is prohibited from “issuing guidance of any kind that the National Form is approved for use or that the National Form may be used to register voters in Wisconsin.”

Although this ruling bans the use of the federal registration form, Wisconsin voters may still opt to register to vote online, by mail, in person at a municipal clerk’s office using a state form or even on Election Day at their polling place. 

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.