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Justice Daniel Kelly recuses himself from voter purge case
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Justice Daniel Kelly recuses himself from voter purge case

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Conservative-backed Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who is up for election in 2020, has recused himself from a controversial and high-profile lawsuit seeking a purge of some 234,000 registered voters from the rolls that is likely to come before the state's high court. 

The Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will take up the case, but Kelly's recusal from the matter, reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, narrows the court's conservative majority from 5-2 to 4-2. 

Kelly didn't provide a reason why he won't consider the case, according to the Journal Sentinel. 

The outcome of the case, which has gained nationwide attention, will determine whether up to 234,000 voters are deactivated from the rolls. Those voters would then need to register to vote online, at a municipal clerk's office or at the polls on election day. 

Kelly's decision comes after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty last week asked the Supreme Court to bypass a Madison-based state appeals court and take up the case. 

The case was appealed by the state Department of Justice after an Ozaukee County judge ordered the removal of up to 234,000 registered voters, who may have moved, in an attempt to clean up the state’s voter rolls.

Republicans have argued it's important to purge the rolls immediately to ensure they are accurate and current, while Democrats have complained doing so is irresponsible because the state has previously misidentified some voters who were flagged as having moved. 

The case has also stirred up controversy to due the proximity of the spring and general election. 

In a February primary, at least three candidates for the state’s highest court will compete for two spots on April’s general election ballot: incumbent conservative-backed Kelly and liberal-backed Marquette Law School professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky. State Supreme Court justices serve for 10 years.

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