FILE - WI voter registration 9-7-2019

A woman holds a voter registration sign from the League of Women Voters on Sept. 7, 2019, at the Madison, Wisconsin, Farmer's Market.

It remains to be seen just how much the three Democrats on Wisconsin's Election Commission will be fined for being in contempt of court. 

An Ozaukee County judge on Monday ordered the three held in contempt for refusing to follow his order from December to remove more than 200,000 people from Wisconsin's voter rolls because they either moved, or have not voted from their address in years. 

"I can’t be any clearer than this," Judge Paul Malloy said. "They need to follow my order."

Malloy fined the Election Commission itself $50 a day until commissioners act. He also fined the WEC's three Democratic members, Ann Jacobs, Julie Glancey and Mark Thomsen, $250 a day until they comply with his order. 

Commissioners are set to vote Tuesday on what to do next.

Lawyers for the commission say that commissioners should not be punished as challenges to the order make their way through the court. 

But Wisconsin's Court of Appeals last week refused to take on the challenge to Malloy's order. That means the case is likely headed for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

There is also a challenge to the order in federal court. Lawyers for the Wisconsin legislature last week asked the federal court to dismiss that lawsuit. Lawmakers say the League of Women voters rushed the case to federal court before the state courts finished deciding the issue. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) sued the Election Commission late last year, arguing that the commission was not following Wisconsin law that requires election managers to purge someone from the voter rolls within 30 days after they change addresses. The commission wanted to wait until at least after Election Day in November. 

After Monday's contempt ruling from Malloy, WILL President Rick Essenberg  echoed what he's been saying since the judge's first order in the case: namely, the commission must follow the law. 

“Court orders are not, and have never been, optional," Essenberg said Monday. "It is our hope that today’s decision will cause the Wisconsin Elections Commission to finally follow state law.”

Staff Reporter

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.