Wisconsin mails suspension notices to 380,000 registered voters
The State of Wisconsin began mailing “Notice of Suspension” postcards this week to approximately 380,000 registered voters who have not voted in the past four years.
“This is an official postcard – not a scam,” said Michael Haas, Wisconsin’s chief elections official. “State law requires inactive voters to be removed from the statewide voter list, which is just one of many steps we take to ensure the integrity of voting in Wisconsin.”
The Wisconsin Elections Commission is sending the postcards to voters who have not voted since the November 2012 presidential election. The postcard asks recipients whether they want to remain active on the state’s voter list. To remain active, voters have one month to mail a return postcard to their municipal clerk. Voters who do not respond will be marked as inactive on the list. Voters will also be inactivated if the postcard is undeliverable by the Post Office.
“This mailing helps make sure every voter’s name and address is correct and current, and removes names of voters who no longer wish to vote,” said Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “It is not designed to keep any active voter’s name off the poll list.”
Voters who have changed their name or address should not return the postcard. Instead they must re-register under their new name or address. Voters can now register online up to 20 days before an election at the MyVote Wisconsin website (www.myvote.wi.gov) if they have an up-to-date Wisconsin driver license or state ID card. They may also register by mail up to 20 days before an election, after which they may register at the clerk’s office until the Friday before the election, or at the polling place on Election Day.
If you receive a postcard but believe you voted in Wisconsin in the past four years, please contact your local municipal clerk, who is responsible for recording who voted in an election. A directory of municipal clerks is available on the Wisconsin Election Commission’s website: http://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory.
WEC Assistant Administrator Meagan Wolfe said that in addition to sending out postcards every two years, the WEC is continually helping Wisconsin’s 1,853 municipal clerks keep the voter list current. “Working together with Wisconsin’s clerks, the Commission is improving data quality to make the voter list more accurate,” Wolfe said. “This has many benefits to Wisconsin voters and taxpayers, both in the election process and in the costs of conducting elections.”
Wisconsin has a voting-age population of 4,461,159 people, according to estimates by the state’s Demographic Services Center. Of those, 3,707,701 people were actively registered to vote on June 1, 2017.
State law requires the Elections Commission to conduct voter list maintenance every two years after each General Election. The purpose is to identify people who are registered but have not voted in the past four years, and remove them from the list if they do not wish to remain registered.
Wisconsin has had a statewide voter registration list since 2006. This is the fifth time the state has conducted voter list maintenance since creating the statewide list.
The number of postcards mailed every two years varies greatly, depending on whether it follows an election for president or for governor. In 2013, the state mailed nearly 300,000 postcards to voters, compared to nearly 100,000 postcards in 2015.
In 2015, 83 percent of people who received postcards were placed on the inactive voter list.
The Elections Commission works closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to identify and remove voters who have died or been convicted of a felony. In 2016, Wisconsin joined the multi-state Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which provides the state with additional tools to identify voters who may have moved or died out of state.