A Wisconsin judge on Friday ordered the state to purge more than 200,000 people from voter rolls because they may have moved, according to The Associated Press.
Ozaukee County Judge Paul Malloy sided with three voters represented by a conservative law firm in denying the request by attorneys for the state elections commission to have his decision put on hold.
The decision means the state has to remove approximately 234,000 people from its voter rolls before the 2020 election, though the decision is expected to be appealed.
“I can’t tell them how to do that, they’re going to have to figure that out,” Malloy said, according to the AP.
The lawsuit argues that the state elections commission should have immediately deactivated any of the voters who didn’t respond to a mailing in October within 30 days, which would flag them as having potentially moved.
The Associated Press reports that the ruling comes at an early point in the case and could make its way up to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The case is being closely watched by both sides as Wisconsin is shaping up to be a crucial state in deciding the 2020 presidential election, as President Trump carried it by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.
Liberals are concerned that voters who could be purged are more likely to be Democrats due to the fact that 55 percent of the letters sent to voters went to municipalities where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton outpolled Trump in 2016.
Meanwhile, Republicans argue that allowing voters who may have moved out of the state to remain on the rolls could increase the risk of voter fraud.
Gov. Tony Evers (D) decried the ruling in a post on Twitter, pointing to close margins for his victory in 2018.
“I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes,” Evers tweeted. “This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process.”
I won the race for governor by less than 30,000 votes. This move pushed by Republicans to remove 200,000 Wisconsinites from the voter rolls is just another attempt at overriding the will of the people and stifling the democratic process. https://t.co/SQDjdsQ6HW
— Tony Evers (@Tony4WI) December 13, 2019
The elections commission, which consists of three Democrats and three Republicans, issued a statement following the ruling, according to the AP.
“We will be analyzing the judge’s oral decision and consulting with the six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission on next steps,” a spokesperson told the news outlet. “A written order has not been issued yet.”