The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that ballot boxes will remain banned for the upcoming April primary elections in the state.
In a 4-3 vote, the state Supreme Court will allow a lower court decision to go into effect that will ban the use of ballot drop boxes at least until April.
While a final decision is yet to come, the ruling suggests the use of ballot drop boxes could come to an end in Wisconsin.
Drop boxes became popular during the 2020 elections as Democrats claimed they were necessary during the “pandemic.”
“Two suburban Milwaukee men last year sued to block the use of ballot drop boxes with the help of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. A Waukesha County judge in January agreed with them and ruled they could not be used,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
“An appeals court quickly stepped in and ruled the drop boxes could be used in the February primary because it was happening so soon. The state Supreme Court took over the case soon afterward and kept in place the ruling that allowed the use of drop boxes for February,” the report continued.
“The state Elections Commission and others asked the high court to extend that policy until at least April. The justices declined to do that on Friday, saying they would let the lower court ruling go into effect that bars the use of drop boxes for that election and ones after it. The justices’ ruling is not the last word in the case. It is expected to decide the case in the coming weeks or months, and that ruling will determine the ultimate fate of drop boxes,” the report added.
There’s also another issue in the case: whether a voter can have someone else deliver their absentee ballots for them.
That practice will be allowed for Tuesday’s primary, but not the April election.
Last month, a Wisconsin judge dealt a stunning blow to Democrats in the state with a decision to end absentee ballot drop boxes in the state.
Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren said that state law allows absentee ballots to be returned in person or by mail but not by drop boxes.
“It’s all good and nice, but there’s no authority to do it,” he said of the drop boxes.
The decision by the judge also prevents others from being able to bring the ballot back for them, which means that political groups cannot do ballot harvesting.
Voters are also not able to have their spouse or neighbor bring a ballot in for them.
“The legislature finds that voting is a constitutional right, the vigorous exercise of which should be strongly encouraged. In contrast, voting by absentee ballot is a privilege exercised wholly outside the traditional safeguards of the polling place. The legislature finds that the privilege of voting by absentee ballot must be carefully regulated to prevent the potential for fraud or abuse; to prevent overzealous solicitation of absent electors who may prefer not to participate in an election; to prevent undue influence on an absent elector to vote for or against a candidate or to cast a particular vote in a referendum; or other similar abuses,” the state law reads.
“The ballot shall be sealed by the elector and returned to the municipal clerk either by mail or by personal delivery of the agent; but if the ballot is returned on the day of the election, the agent shall make personal delivery to the polling place serving the hospitalized elector’s residence before the closing hour or, in municipalities where absentee ballots are canvassed under s. 7.52, to the municipal clerk no later than 8 p.m. on election day,” it stated.
It states that “the envelope [containing the ballot] shall be mailed by the elector, or delivered in person, to the municipal clerk issuing the ballot or ballots.”