Wisconsin Supreme Court restricts ballot drop boxes

(AP) Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled Friday that mail-in ballot boxes can only be placed in election offices, handing critical defeats to Democrats in the battleground state. The court did not address the issue of whether someone other than the voter can return their own ballot by mail. Election officials and others have argued that drop boxes are a safe and convenient way for voters to return ballots. The decision sets rules for mail-in voting for the Aug. 9 primary and fall elections; Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Governor Tony Evers are seeking re-election 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 beat 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 mail-in voting exploded during the pandemic in 2020, with over 40% of all voters voting by mail, 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 two most heavily Democratic cities in the state. After Trump lost the state, he and Republicans alleged that the drop boxes facilitated cheating, even though they offered no evidence. Democrats, election officials and some Republicans argued the boxes were secure. The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued in 2021. The state Supreme Court in February banned the use of drop boxes outside election clerk offices during elections. April elections for local offices, such as mayor, city council and school board seats. The court ruled on Friday on whether to allow secure ballot boxes in places such as libraries and grocery stores. State law is silent on drop boxes, and the court said mail-in ballots can only be returned to the clerk’s office or other designated location. Wisconsin’s bipartisan Election Commission had told local election officials that ballot boxes could be placed in multiple locations and ballots could be returned by people other than the voter, but suspended that pending the court’s decision. supreme. Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature also tried to enact laws limiting the use of mail-in ballots, but Evers vetoed them. Republicans have taken similar steps since Trump’s defeat to tighten ballot access in other battleground states. The restrictions specifically target voting methods that are growing in popularity, raising barriers to mail-in and early voting that have seen explosive growth during the pandemic. Click here for a full decision.

(AP) Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled Friday that mail-in ballot boxes can only be placed in election offices, handing critical defeats to Democrats in the battleground state.

The court did not address the issue of whether someone other than the voter can return their own ballot by mail. Election officials and others have argued that drop boxes are a safe and convenient way for voters to return ballots.

The decision sets rules for mail-in voting for the Aug. 9 primary and fall elections; Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Governor Tony Evers are seeking re-election 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 beat 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 mail-in voting exploded during the pandemic in 2020, with over 40% of all voters voting by mail, 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 two most heavily Democratic cities in the state.

After Trump lost the state, he and Republicans alleged that the drop boxes facilitated cheating, even though they offered no evidence. Democrats, election officials and some Republicans argued the boxes were secure.

The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued in 2021. The state Supreme Court in February banned the use of drop boxes outside election clerk offices during elections. April elections for local offices, such as mayor, city council and school board seats. The court ruled on Friday on whether to allow secure ballot boxes in places such as libraries and grocery stores.

State law is silent on drop boxes, and the court said mail-in ballots can only be returned to the clerk’s office or other designated location. Wisconsin’s bipartisan Election Commission had told local election officials that ballot boxes could be placed in multiple locations and ballots could be returned by people other than the voter, but suspended that pending the court’s decision. supreme.

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature also tried to enact laws limiting the use of mail-in ballots, but Evers vetoed them.

Republicans have taken similar steps since Trump’s defeat to tighten ballot access in other battleground states. The restrictions specifically target voting methods that are growing in popularity, raising barriers to mail-in and early voting that have seen explosive growth during the pandemic.

Click here for the full decision.

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