Saturday, July 09, 2022

Wisconsin Supreme Court Bans Uses Of Drop Boxes In Elections

 By  Leif Le Mahieu |

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has banned the use of unmanned ballot drop boxes for ballot collection in a tight decision released on Friday. 

The court ruled 4-3 that voters could not turn their ballots into unmanned drop boxes and said that voters would not be allowed to give their ballots to others to drop off for them. The court said that voters would have the option to turn their ballots in-person or mail them in. Furthermore, drop boxes will not be used in the August primary or the general election. 

“An absentee ballot must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk at the clerk’s office or a designated alternative site,” the majority decision said. 

The lawsuit, initiated by two Wisconsin voters, was brought against several entities including the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Documents in question included guidance from the WEC on mail-in-ballots and voting. The lawsuit alleged that ballot drop boxes “causes doubts about the fairness of the elections and erodes voter confidence in the electoral process.” 

“The key phrase is ‘in person’ and it must be assigned its natural meaning,” said Justice Rebecca Bradley, who wrote the majority decision. She also said that election regulations regarding ballot drop boxes should come from the legislature.

“Only the legislature may permit absentee voting via ballot drop boxes,” she wrote.

The courts liberal leaning justices said the decision restricted the right to vote.

“Although it pays lip service to the import of the right to vote, the majority/lead opinion has the practical effect of making it more difficult to exercise it,” Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in her dissent.

The decision followed a lower court ruling that also banned the use of drop boxes. During the 2020 presidential election there were about 500 ballot drop boxes in use in Wisconsin. 

Republican candidates running to unseat Governor Tony Evers (D-WI) praised the court’s decision.

Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch called the ruling a “HUGE win for election integrity.” 

Trump endorsed construction executive Tim Michels, another Republican gubernatorial hopeful, laid out plans for future election legislation following the decision. Michels’ plans included banning private funding for elections and the elimination of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. 

“I’m glad the court today sided with election integrity and affirmed our belief that unmanned drop boxes were illegal. However, to fully restore the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections, we must defeat Tony Evers,” Michels said in a statement.