The Wisconsin Supreme Court has dealt a blow to Democrats over the placement of absentee ballot drop boxes and their ruling is effective for the upcoming August and November elections.
Essentially, the ruling states that drop boxes may only be placed in election offices that are staffed and cannot just be placed all over the state in unstaffed locations like they were in 2020.
Here’s more via Spectrum News:
Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled Friday that absentee ballot drop boxes may be placed only in election offices and that no one other than the voter can return a ballot in person, dealing a critical defeat to Democrats in the battleground state.
The court did not address the question of whether anyone other than the voter can return his or her own ballot by mail. Election officials and others had argued that drop boxes are a secure and convenient way for voters to return ballots.
The decision sets absentee ballot rules for the Aug. 9 primary and the fall election; Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are seeking reelection in key races.
The court’s 4-3 ruling also has critical implications in the 2024 presidential race, in which Wisconsin will again be among a handful of battleground states. President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in 2020 by just under 21,000 votes, four years after Trump narrowly won the state by a similar margin.
The popularity of absentee voting exploded during the pandemic in 2020, with more than 40% of all voters casting mail ballots, a record high. At least 500 drop boxes were set up in more than 430 communities for the election that year, including more than a dozen each in Madison and Milwaukee — the state’s two most heavily Democratic cities.
After Trump lost the state, he and Republicans alleged that drop boxes facilitated cheating, even though they offered no evidence. Democrats, elections officials and some Republicans argued the boxes are secure.
The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued in 2021. The state Supreme Court in February barred the use of drop boxes outside election clerk offices in the April election for local offices, such as mayor, city council and school board seats. The court ruled Friday on the question of whether to allow secure ballot boxes in places such as libraries and grocery stores.
State law is silent on drop boxes. The court said the absence of a prohibition in state law does not mean that drop boxes are legal.
“Nothing in the statutory language detailing the procedures by which absentee ballots may be cast mentions drop boxes or anything like them,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority.
The court said absentee ballots can be returned only to the clerk’s office or a designated alternative site but that site cannot be an unstaffed drop box. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission had told local election officials the boxes can be placed at multiple locations and that ballots can be returned by people other than the voter, but put that on hold pending the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Rick Esenberg, president of the conservative law firm that brought the case, said the ruling “provides substantial clarity on the legal status of absentee ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting.” He said it also makes clear that state law, not guidance from the Elections Commission, is the final word on how elections are run.
Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature have also tried to enact laws limiting the use of absentee ballots, but Evers has vetoed them.
Hopefully this will severely cut down on the absentee ballot fraud that we saw in 2020 and will allow for more fair elections in the state.
It’s going to be even more important in 2024, when Trump potentially runs again and Democrats try and steal the election again.