Washington (CNN)More than 200,000 voters who were set to be purged from Wisconsin’s rolls will instead remain for the time being after the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued a hold Tuesday on a previous order that said the voters were invalid because they may have moved recently.
Last month, a county judge instructed the Wisconsin Elections Commission to remove the voters, ruling in favor of a conservative law firm that argued the state was obligated to remove those who hadn’t responded to a recent mailing from active voting rolls as a way of keeping records updated.
Tuesday’s hold will allow the voters to remain on the rolls until the court of appeals can formally hear the case at a later date. The court also put a hold on a ruling the day before that held the election commission in contempt for not removing the voter registrations. The commission was facing a $50-a-day fine and three Democratic commissioners who voted against the removals were to be fined $250 a day until they complied.
In a state viewed as a battleground in 2020, the removal of 200,000 voters could have profound implications. In 2016, President Donald Trump won Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes through defeating Hillary Clinton by less than 23,000 votes.
“What is true yesterday is true today. The Wisconsin Elections Commission isn’t following state law and we look forward to making that case in the court of appeals,” said Rick Esenberg, the president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which filed the challenge.
The appeals court’s order comes just hours after the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday night denied a petition from the conservative law group to bypass the appellate court in hopes of getting a final decision to remove the voters.
State law requires the commission to remove from the active voting rolls those who hadn’t respond to a recent mailing, made as part of a regular effort to update records, within 30 days.
In October, WILL filed a complaint against the commission to force the voter registration list maintenance. In December, Judge Paul Malloy of Ozaukee County ordered the Wisconsin election officials to remove the roughly 234,000 inactive voters. Since then, several thousand have clarified their voter status and been re-added to the rolls.