Wisconsin judge rules against absentee ballot boxes
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin judge has sided with conservatives, ruling that absentee ballot drop boxes cannot be located anywhere other than at offices of local clerks and that no one other than the voter may return such a ballot.
The use of drop boxes increased significantly during the pandemic in an effort to reduce crowds at polling sites.
“All the other examples we’re talking about -- a drop box in a park, on a street corner, at a library, even outside the clerk’s office overnight -- all of that conflicts with multiple state laws,” Luke Berg of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty argued.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Kilpatrick countered, ”The [Wisconsin Election Commission’s] guidance claims clerks should ensure drop boxes are secure, can be monitored and be regularly emptied.”
Thursday’s court hearing was held virtually. The ruling, if it stands, means that no ballot drop boxes can be used in the upcoming Feb. 15 spring primary election featuring a bevy of local races. The spring general election is April 5.
The ruling comes in one of three pending lawsuits on the issue and will certainly be appealed. The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court is ultimately expected to rule on the legality of the widespread use of drop boxes in the battleground state.
Right now, state law specific to ballot drop boxes is unclear. Republicans are attempting to change state law to limit ballot boxes and force the bipartisan state elections commission to enact rules limiting their location.
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