Wisconsin Supreme Court restricts ballot boxes

(AP) The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mail-in ballot boxes can only be placed in voting offices, handing critical defeat to Democrats in the battleground state. The court did not address the question of whether anyone other than the voter can return their own ballot in the mail. Election officials and others have argued that Dropboxes are a safe and convenient way for voters to return ballots. Decision establishes mail-in voting rules for August 9 primary and fall elections; Republican US Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are seeking re-election in key races. The court’s 4-3 ruling also has crucial implications for the 2024 presidential race, where Wisconsin will once again be among a handful of battleground states. President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in 2020, four years after Trump narrowly won the state by a similar margin. The popularity of mail-in voting exploded during the 2020 pandemic, when more than 40% of all voters cast mail-in ballots, a record high. At least 500 mailboxes have been set up in more than 430 communities for this year’s election, including more than a dozen each in Madison and Milwaukee — the state’s two most Democratic cities. After Trump lost the state, he and Republicans claimed that dropboxes facilitated fraud, although they offered no evidence. Democrats, election officials, and some Republicans argued the boxes were safe. The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued in 2021. The state Supreme Court in February banned the use of mailboxes outside poll workers’ offices in April’s election for local offices such as the mayor, city council and school boards. The court ruled Friday on whether to allow secure ballot boxes in places like libraries and grocery stores. State law is silent on dropboxes, and the court said absentee ballots can only be returned to the clerk’s office or a designated alternate location. Wisconsin’s bipartisan election commission had told local election officials that the boxes could be placed in multiple locations and that ballots could be returned by anyone other than the voter, but had suspended doing so until the Supreme Court ruled. Republicans, who control the Wisconsin legislature, have also attempted to pass legislation restricting the use of absentee voting, but Evers vetoed it. Republicans have taken similar steps to tighten ballot access in other battleground states since Trump’s defeat. Specifically targeting voting methods that are growing in popularity, the restrictions erect hurdles to absentee voting and early voting, which have exploded during the pandemic. Click here to read the full decision.

(AP) The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday that mail-in ballot boxes can only be placed in voting offices, handing critical defeat to Democrats in the battleground state.

The court did not address the question of whether anyone other than the voter can return their own ballot in the mail. Election officials and others have argued that Dropboxes are a safe and convenient way for voters to return ballots.

Decision establishes mail-in voting rules for August 9 primary and fall elections; Republican US Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers are seeking re-election in key races.

The court’s 4-3 ruling also has crucial implications for the 2024 presidential race, where Wisconsin will once again be among a handful of battleground states. President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in 2020, four years after Trump narrowly won the state by a similar margin.

The popularity of mail-in voting exploded during the 2020 pandemic, when more than 40% of all voters cast mail-in ballots, a record high. At least 500 mailboxes have been set up in more than 430 communities for this year’s election, including more than a dozen each in Madison and Milwaukee — the state’s two most Democratic cities.

After Trump lost the state, he and Republicans claimed that dropboxes facilitated fraud, although they offered no evidence. Democrats, election officials, and some Republicans argued the boxes were safe.

The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued in 2021. The state Supreme Court in February banned the use of mailboxes outside poll workers’ offices in April’s election for local offices such as the mayor, city council and school boards. The court ruled Friday on whether to allow secure ballot boxes in places like libraries and grocery stores.

State law is silent on dropboxes, and the court said absentee ballots can only be returned to the clerk’s office or a designated alternate location. Wisconsin’s bipartisan election commission had told local election officials that the boxes could be placed in multiple locations and that ballots could be returned by anyone other than the voter, but had suspended doing so until the Supreme Court ruled.

Republicans, who control the Wisconsin legislature, have also attempted to pass legislation restricting the use of absentee voting, but Evers vetoed it.

Republicans have taken similar steps to tighten ballot access in other battleground states since Trump’s defeat. Specifically targeting voting methods that are gaining popularity, the restrictions erect hurdles to absentee voting and early voting, which have seen explosive growth during the pandemic.

Click here for the full decision.

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