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Thousands taken off Milwaukee voting rolls, Barrett says system "not ready for prime time"

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Tuesday he is concerned about people being removed from state registration lists through a new state process.

The city had 44,000 people dropped from the rolls after Wisconsin began using a process called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). City leaders say at the very most, 30,000 of those were taken off despite not changing addresses, but they cannot give an exact number. 

There were about 100 Milwuakee voters in the low turnout February election that were taken out of the system, but had not changed addresses.

City leaders were concerned it would have been much higher in a high turnout election like November. Several Milwaukee voters didn't know thousands were dropped from city rolls.

"It's kind of disheartening and concerning," voter Michelle Koper said. "How does something like that happen."

"I had no idea, and I'm appalled," voter Liza Kessler said.

Barrett said the issue came from the DMV and U.S. Post Office entering data that did not mesh with the state's new system.

"We understand that there's this new system," Barrett said. "It clearly is not ready for prime time. Let's wait until it is ready for prime time, and then let's incorporate it into our voting records."

The Wisconsin Elections Commission said they have created a supplemental list of voters who were removed from the rolls because of the ERIC process, which they say will be sufficient for the April 3 to make sure nobody has to re-register who has not changed addresses.

But Milwaukee Elections Commission Director Neil Albrecht said he wants the commission to consider going back to the old system.

"At some point you consider, maybe I just need to restore the original database, and that's what we're asking the state to do because issues continue to evolve," Albrecht said. 

The Elections Commission said that will not be necessary, or even possible.

At this point, it is too late just to add those deactivated voters back," commission spokesperson Reid Magney said in an email. "The supplemental poll list creates a safety net which accomplishes the same thing.

Voters are recommended to check their registration status at https://myvote.wi.gov

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