Wisconsin AG vows to appeal voter verification ruling

Chris Rizo Oct. 23, 2008, 2:44pm

J.B. Van Hollen (R)

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Thursday he will appeal a court ruling today that threw out his lawsuit to force officials to cross-check information on voter rolls.

"I believe today's decision was an erroneous interpretation of the law," the Republican attorney general said. "When a lower court gets the law wrong, parties appeal to a higher court, and that's what I will do.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi dismissed the lawsuit Thursday, saying Van Hollen lacked the authority to sue to force the state Government Accountability Board to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, known as HAVA.

Sumi said only the U.S. attorney can sue to enforce the federal voter law.

The Help America Vote Act took, which effect January 2006, required states and localities to upgrade their election procedures, including their voting machines, registration processes and poll worker training.

Wisconsin's system was not in place until just recently. Van Hollen has said if the state was in compliance by the date HAVA went into effect, Wisconsin would have had to cross-check voter registrations against other state data bases from the effective date forward.

Because the Badger State was not in compliance when HAVA took effect, the attorney general said the state should go back and review voter registration information of everyone who has registered to vote or changed their name or address since the law went into effect.

"We cannot lose sight of the goal of this lawsuit," Van Hollen said Thursday. "Wisconsin needs an accurate statewide voter list. Wisconsin needs to comply with state and federal laws designed to protect the right to vote. Looking the other way is not an option."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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