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Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules Public Absentee Drop Boxes Are Illegal

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the Democrats and to drop box voting.

In a 4-3 decision on Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court banned the use of most ballot drop boxes which were prevalent in the 2020 elections, The Washington Post reported.

It’s a ruling feared by voting rights proponents, who said ahead of time such a decision would make it harder for voters — particularly those with disabilities — to return their absentee ballots. Many Republicans hoped for a ruling that they said would help prevent someone from casting a ballot in the name of someone else.

The 4-3 ruling came a month before the state’s Aug. 9 primaries, when voters will narrow the fields for governor and U.S. senator. Both contests in this battleground state are being closely watched nationally.

For years, ballot drop boxes were used without controversy across Wisconsin. Election clerks greatly expanded their use in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic as absentee voting hit unprecedented levels.

By the time of the presidential election, more than 500 ballot drop boxes were in place across Wisconsin. Some Republicans balked at their use, pointing to a state law that says an absentee ballot must “be mailed by the elector, or delivered in person, to the municipal clerk issuing the ballot or ballots.”

“The key phrase is ‘in person’ and it must be assigned its natural meaning,” Justice Rebecca Bradley said in the majority opinion of the court.

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“WEC’s staff may have been trying to make voting as easy as possible during the pandemic, but whatever their motivations, WEC must follow Wisconsin statutes. Good intentions never override the law,” she said.

“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. Such a result, although lamentable, is not a surprise from this court, she said. “It has seemingly taken the opportunity to make it harder to vote or to inject confusion into the process whenever it has been presented with the opportunity.”

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty brought the lawsuit last year as it argued that the use of drop boxes “causes doubts about the fairness of the elections and erodes voter confidence in the electoral process,” and that people “are entitled to have the elections in which they participate administered properly under the law.”

Many Democrats were furious with the decision on Twitter.

“can the Wisconsin Supreme Court please explain their rationale behind permitting unmanned mailboxes, but not unmanned drop boxes, which are inherently more secure than a mailbox,” one user said.

“How f^cked up is the Republican Party? Republicans like those on the Wisconsin Supreme Court want to make it easier for lunatics to get guns but harder for American citizens to vote,” another said.

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“The Wisconsin Supreme Court is ridiculously politicized. Every decision of significance is decided by a 4-3 vote, with Republican Judges controlling. It’s as much of a cesspool as SCOTUS, albeit with a much smaller effect,” another said.

“Ballot drop boxes have been used for years in Wisconsin without controversy. Thirty states and the District of Columbia use them. But today, the Republican-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, has ruled they can no longer be used,” Keith Boykin said.

“A Wisconsin Supreme Court that makes it harder to vote is not acting as a court. It’s a political cabal with a partisan agenda. In this case, the court’s Republican-aligned majority is barring widespread use of reliable and efficient drop boxes in heavily Democratic Dane County,” progressive reporter John Nichols said.

“They are beyond f^cked up. Republicans have lost their way. Democrats better vote like hell in November!!!! We can’t let these red states be a model for the federal government because we will be f^cked!!!!! Wisconsin Supreme Court got this one so wrong,” another said.

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