Wisconsin Supreme Court bans absentee ballot drop boxes

Wisconsin Republicans scored a huge win this week, thanks to the state’s highest court, with a decision that will impact future elections.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided in a 4–3 decision that absentee ballot drop boxes are only allowed at election clerk offices, eliminating the random drop boxes that many on the right alleged contributed to skewed results in the 2020 election. 

The bombshell ruling comes just weeks before the state’s upcoming Aug. 9 primary election.

The Journal Sentinel noted: “Writing for the majority, Justice Rebecca Bradley said state law does not permit drop boxes anywhere other than election clerk offices and only state lawmakers may make new policy stating otherwise — not the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which issued guidance to clerks allowing them.”

The ruling

The outlet noted that some 40% of votes were cast via the hundreds of drop boxes placed throughout the state in 2020, with election officials citing the pandemic as their reasoning.

Justice Bradley explained in her ruling that while the pandemic stage called for different circumstances, her bottom line is that only lawmakers have the power to create or edit voting laws, including where drop boxes are placed.

“WEC’s staff may have been trying to make voting as easy as possible during the pandemic, but whatever their motivations, WEC must follow Wisconsin statutes. Good intentions never override the law,” the justice wrote.

“Our obligation is to follow the law, which may mean the policy result is undesirable or unpopular. Even so, we must follow the law anyway. To the extent the citizens of Wisconsin wish the law were different, the main remedy is to vote and persuade elected officials to enact different laws. This is the hard work of democracy,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote in a concurring opinion.

Conservatives cheer

The ruling was widely hailed across social media as a huge win for conservative voters, with some suggesting that it equaled vindication for former President Donald Trump.

Another user wrote: “I HAVE GREAT NEWS! The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that absentee ballot drop boxes may only be placed in election offices & no one other than the voter can return a ballot in person. In 2020, Wisconsin had more than 500 unmanned drop boxes — this won’t happen again.”

New guidelines are expected to be sent out soon to voters to explain the changes in upcoming elections.

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