Wisconsin’s high court, led by the conservative majority, has declared absentee ballot drop boxes illegal. Previously, the state had utilized these drop boxes for three years under the pretense of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ruling specifies that when submitting an absentee ballot to the clerk’s office, it must be personally delivered by the voter, rather than by a third party. Further details can be found in the report by Wisconsin Public Radio.
In a divided ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has banned the use of absentee ballot drop boxes. Additionally, the court’s conservative majority declared it illegal for anyone other than the voter themselves to return a completed absentee ballot to the clerk’s office, including spouses or roommates.
Justice Rebecca Bradley, writing for the majority, emphasized that the absence of any mention of drop boxes in the statutory language governing absentee voting procedures influenced the decision.
This ruling, supported by swing Justice Brian Hagedorn, means that future absentee voting in Wisconsin will be less convenient compared to the surge seen during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Justice Rebecca Bradley, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) had exceeded its authority in issuing guidance to local clerks in 2020 regarding the usage of unstaffed drop boxes.
In her written opinion, Bradley emphasized that while the WEC’s staff may have aimed to facilitate voting during the pandemic, they must adhere to Wisconsin statutes, as good intentions do not supersede the law.
Additionally, Bradley stated that absentee ballots delivered in person at a clerk’s office must be personally handed over by the voter, with no involvement of any third party. After considering the election statutes in their entirety, Bradley concluded that the voter must be responsible for personally delivering the absentee ballot.
What Happened in Wisconsin?
- Wisconsin mayors in only the largest cities set up illegal unmanned drop boxes in democrat strongholds which is a violation of state law as well as the equal protection clause of the constitution.
- Wisconsin mayors told voters in the state to register as ‘indefinitely confined’ before the election. This allowed hundreds of thousands of ballots to be processed without going through the proper verification process.
- More than 200,000 illegal ballots were counted in Wisconsin
The mayors of Wisconsin’s five largest cities—Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine, which all have Democrat majorities— joined in this effort, and together, developed a plan use purportedly drop-boxes to facilitate return of absentee ballots.
Over five hundred unmanned, illegal, absentee ballot drop boxes were used in the Presidential election in Wisconsin. The use of any drop box, manned or unmanned, is directly prohibited by Wisconsin statute.
The WEC and local election officials also took it upon themselves to encourage voters to unlawfully declare themselves “indefinitely confined”—which under Wisconsin law allows the voter to avoid security measures like signature verification and photo ID requirements. Specifically, registering to vote by absentee ballot requires photo identification, except for those who register as “indefinitely confined” or “hospitalized.”
On March 25, 2020, in clear violation of Wisconsin law, Dane County Clerk Scott McDonnell and Milwaukee County Clerk George Christensen both issued guidance indicating that all voters should mark themselves as “indefinitely confined” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of this nearly 216,000 voters said they were indefinitely confined in the 2020 election, nearly a fourfold increase from nearly 57,000 voters in 2016. In Dane and Milwaukee counties, more than 68,000 voters said they were indefinitely confined in 2020, a fourfold increase from the roughly 17,000 indefinitely confined voters in those counties in 2016.