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United States v. State
United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
June 20, 2018
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
STATE OF WISCONSIN; WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION; and MEAGAN WOLFE, in her official capacity as the Interim Administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Defendants.
CONSENT JUDGMENT AND DECREE
United States of America, initiated this action against the
State of Wisconsin; the Wisconsin Elections Commission; and
Meagan Wolfe, in her official capacity as the Interim
Administrator of the Elections Commission (collectively,
"Defendants"), to enforce the requirements of the
Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act
("UOCAVA"), 52 U.S.C. §§20301 et
United States alleges that Defendants, through Wisconsin laws
and election administration procedures, do not provide
Wisconsin voters who temporarily reside overseas the
protections to which they are entitled under UOCAVA. The
United States and Defendants, through their respective
counsel, have conferred and agree, that this action should be
settled without the delay and expense of litigation. The
parties share the goal of ensuring that all of
Wisconsin's eligible U.S. citizens are afforded the
voting guarantees of UOCAVA. The parties have negotiated in
good faith and hereby agree to the entry of this Consent
Decree as an appropriate resolution of the UOCAVA claim
alleged by the United States, Accordingly, the United States
and Defendants stipulate and agree that:
1. For purposes of this agreement, the phrase "temporary
overseas voters" is defined to mean Wisconsin voters who
"reside[ ] outside the United States, " within the
meaning of 52 U.S.C, § 20310(5)(B) and (C), and who
intend to return at some point in the future to Wisconsin.
2. The Attorney. General is authorized to enforce the
provisions of UOCAVA, 52 U.S.C. § 20307, and brings this
action for declaratory and injunctive relief to ensure that
Wisconsin's temporary overseas voters will have the
protections guaranteed by UOCAVA in Wisconsin's 2018
elections for Federal office and in future elections for
3. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 52 U.S.C. §
20307 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1345 and 2201.
4. Defendant State of Wisconsin (the "State" or
"Wisconsin") is covered by UOCAVA and has the
responsibility of complying with its requirements. 52 U.S.C.
5. Defendant Wisconsin Elections Commission ("Elections
Commission") is responsible for administering laws in
the Stale regarding elections. Wis.Stat. § 5.05(1).
6. Defendant Meagan Wolfe is the Elections Commission's
Interim Administrator and is sued in her official capacity.
The Administrator also serves as the State's Chief
Election Officer. Wis.Stat. § 5.O5(3g).
7. UOCAVA guarantees absent uniformed services voters and
overseas voters (collectively, "UOCAVA voters") the
right to "use absentee registration procedures and to
vote by absentee ballot in general, special, primary, and
runoff elections for Federal office." 52 U.S.C. §
20302(a)(1), The statute requires that states afford a number
of specific protections for all UOCAVA voters, including the
option to receive their blank absentee ballots by mail or
electronically, and the ability to use Federal write-in
absentee ballots to vote in Federal elections, 52 U.S.C.
8. UOCAVA requires stales to establish procedures to transmit
blank absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters by mail or
electronically in accordance with the transmission method the
voters designate. 52 U.S.C. § 20302(a)(7), (f)(1).
9. UOCAVA requires states to permit UOCAVA voters to use the
Federal write-in absentee ballot as a back-up measure to vote
in elections for Federal office if the voters have made
timely application for, and have not received, the absentee
ballots from their states. 52 U.S.C. §§
10. UOCAVA defines an "overseas voter" as (1) an
absent uniformed services voter who, by reason of active duty
or service is absent from the United States on the date of
the election involved; (2) a person who resides outside the
United States and is qualified to vote in the last place in
which the person was domiciled before leaving the United
States; or (3) a person who resides outside the United States
and (but for such residence) would be qualified to vote in
the last place in which the person was domiciled before
leaving the United States. 52 U.S.C. § 20310(5). The
federal law does not distinguish between those overseas
voters who reside overseas indefinitely and those who reside
overseas temporarily and intend to return to the United
States. See id.
11. Wisconsin's statute governing federal overseas voting
defines an "overseas elector" as "a U.S.
citizen who is not disqualified from voting under [Wis. Stat.
§] 6.03, who has attained or will attain the age of 1.8
by the date of an election at which the citizen proposes to
vote and who does not qualify as a resident of [Wisconsin]
under [Wis. Stat. §] 6.10, but who was last domiciled in
[Wisconsin] or whose parent was last domiciled in [Wisconsin]
immediately prior to the parent's departure from the
United States, and who is not registered to vote or voting in
any other state, territory or possession." Wis.Stat.
§ 6.24(1). Under that definition, a person who qualifies
as a resident of Wisconsin under Wis, Stat. § 6.10 is
not an overseas elector.
12. Wisconsin Stat. §6.10 provides the standards
governing residence as ' a qualification for voting in
Wisconsin. Under Wis.Stat. § 6.10(1), "[t]he
residence of a person is the place where the person's
habitation is fixed, without any present intent to move, and
to which, when absent, the person intends to return."
According to that residency standard, a person who has a
fixed habitation in Wisconsin to which, ...
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