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Wisconsin Supreme Court Bans Most Drop Boxes From Being Used In Elections

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


Ballot drop boxes for elections in the state of Wisconsin are done after the state’s Supreme Court banned them.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday in a 4 -3 decision, banned the use of most of the drop boxes, which were heavily used during the 2020 elections, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Voters casting absentee ballots this fall for the highest state offices won’t be able to return their ballots in upcoming elections by using drop boxes following a ruling Friday by the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority.  

The 4-3 ruling, coming four weeks before statewide primaries Aug. 9, is a win for Republicans who now oppose the longstanding use of ballot drop boxes after their use proliferated during the coronavirus pandemic and was heavily criticized by former President Donald Trump, who alleged with no evidence that absentee voting was rife with fraud and led to his re-election loss in 2020.

Writing for the majority, Justice Rebecca Bradley said state law does not permit drop boxes anywhere other than election clerk offices and only state lawmakers may make new policy stating otherwise — not the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which issued guidance to clerks allowing them. 

“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 dropboxes, 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.

“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.

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“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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