Wisconsin Supreme Court Hands Democrats a Swing State Win, Reverses Ballot Drop Box Order

Two years after a Wisconsin Supreme Court with a conservative majority banned the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots, a court with a liberal majority threw out that ruling just in time for the election season.

The 4-3 decision means drop boxes can be used for the swing state’s Aug. 13 primaries and Nov. 5 general election, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The court had a conservative majority prior to the 2023 elections, when it became a 4-3 liberal court.

“Our decision today does not force or require that any municipal clerks use drop boxes. It merely acknowledges what (state law) has always meant: that clerks may lawfully utilize secure drop boxes in an exercise of their statutorily-conferred discretion,” Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in the majority opinion.

Although drop boxes were used in Wisconsin for decades prior to 2020, in that year, when states flooded the market with absentee ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic, drop boxes became a focal point in the national debate over their potential to contribute to election fraud.


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Wisconsin GOP Chairman Brian Schimming said the ruling was “a setback for both the separation of powers and public trust in our elections” courtesy of “the left-wing justices on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.”

“This latest attempt by leftist justices to placate their far-left backers will not go unanswered by voters,” Schimming said.

Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in a dissent joined by two other conservative judges that the liberal majority “again forsakes the rule of law in an attempt to advance its political agenda.”

“The majority ends the term by loosening the legislature’s regulations governing the privilege of absentee voting in the hopes of tipping the scales in future elections,” Bradley wrote.

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Bradley said that the ruling was a setback to efforts to assure Americans that elections are fair.

“Intense partisan politics saturate our nation, exacerbated by a lack of institutional trust. The legitimacy of elections continues to be questioned, each side accusing the other of ‘election interference’  and ‘threatening democracy’ or even the very foundation of our constitutional republic. The majority’s decision in this case will only fuel the fires of suspicion,” she wrote.

She wrote that the 2022 decision banning drop boxes was overturned “not because it is legally erroneous, but because the majority finds it politically inconvenient. The majority’s activism marks another triumph of political power over legal principle in this court.”

“Judicial elections do not change the law,” she wrote, adding, “This court has made clear a change in the membership of this court is an illegitimate basis for reconsidering a prior decision — and at least two members of the majority have emphatically reiterated that point in their earlier writings, only to forsake the principle with alacrity.”

Bradley said state law, which is silent on drop boxes, offers voters two choices — to vote in person or deliver a ballot to a clerk’s office.


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The law, she wrote, “does not contemplate in person absentee voting at a location other than the office of the municipal clerk or an alternate site, and the explicit rules for alternate sites leave no reasonable room for in person absentee voting at any other locations.”

“The majority would have us believe that buried within four innocuous words, ‘to the municipal clerk,’ is a delegation of vast power to municipal clerks to create an absentee voting regime unlike anything resembling the law,” she wrote.

At least 29 other states allow for absentee ballot drop boxes, the US Vote Foundation said, according to CNN.

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