Sun. May 19th, 2024

Wisconsin Supreme Court to revisit ruling that banned most ballot drop boxes

By 37ci3 May12,2024

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Monday in a key case that will determine the future of absentee ballots in the battleground state.

The case will give the court’s liberal majority an opportunity to overturn the court’s ruling less than two years ago – when conservatives held a majority – it significantly reduced the number of absentee ballot boxes in the state.

If the court’s current 4-3 liberal majority overturns that ruling, it could result in a rollback of the widespread use of outside ballot boxes for upcoming presidential elections.

Democrats and progressives in the state filed multiple briefs urging the court to overturn the 2022 decision. Conservative groups and the Republican Party of Wisconsin have filed several briefs in support of the existing regulations on drop-off boxes.

“They make voting more accessible and possible for people. That’s why we support it,” said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, the state arm of the national nonpartisan government watchdog group. Common Cause Wisconsin filed an amicus brief in the case seeking reversal of the 2022 decision.

“Despite the concerns and claims of election deniers and conspiracy theorists, the boxes were not used for any nefarious purpose as they claimed,” he said.

After the 2020 election, the use of ballot boxes has been repeatedly criticized by former President Donald Trump. his alliesWHO made a false claim said the practice led to widespread voter fraud.

Wisconsin GOP Chairman Brian Schimming, whose party also filed an amicus brief in the case, said his concerns about returning to more widespread use of drop boxes included the “possibility of pickup” and the “security of drop boxes” by Democrats, but “our main concern here is repealing the law.”

“The law continues to act unnecessarily in this state,” which could create “confusion” and “chaos” during voting, he said.

“I’m not averse to looking at things differently,” Shiming said, “but the election is six months away” and “we have a Supreme Court that feels like a second Legislature.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which oversees elections in the state, introduced looser rules on drop boxes in 2020 at the start of the Covid pandemic. Wisconsin law does not care about the use of boxes, which contributes to the ongoing legal situation. on the issue.

In a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled In July 2022, Wisconsin voters who cast absentee ballots will no longer be able to drop them off in drop boxes located anywhere except at election officials’ offices.

The state’s highest court has ruled that only the Republican-controlled state Legislature, not the Wisconsin Election Commission, has the authority to enact laws and policies related to ballot boxes.

The former ballot box has been turned into a work of art.
A former ballot box in Madison, Wis., pictured in October 2022, has been turned into a work of art.Scott Bauer / AP file

After the liberals won the majority of votes For the first time in 15 years, in 2023, the Democratic group Priorities USA filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2022 order that limited the use of ballot boxes as well as other rules and restrictions on absentee voting. (After a Wisconsin court narrowed the suit, the group went straight to the state Supreme Court, bypassing lower appeals courts).

Four liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court justices voted in March to accept the case, specifically agreeing to resolve that the 22-month sentence was improperly imposed, but not any other issues raised in the original lawsuit.

Priorities said the 2022 decision in its U.S. filings was wrongly decided because Wisconsin law is silent on the issue of drop boxes. While the group acknowledges that Wisconsin law makes it clear that absentee ballots must be returned by mail or in person, it argues that it is unclear whether voters can return absentee ballots in person at a location other than the clerk’s office.

“Nothing prevents municipal clerks from accepting ballots at locations other than their offices, including through secure ballot boxes located elsewhere,” the group said. in an application.

Groups calling for the ruling to be overturned say the court’s taking the case signals that its liberal justices have concerns about the 2022 ruling and will overturn it.

“You don’t prejudge them, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t [overturn], just because they took the job,” said Common Cause’s Heck. “Three of the existing progressive justices strongly opposed the decision in 2022, and then the newest addition, Janet Protasiewicz, has aligned with them so far.”

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By 37ci3

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