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Wisconsin Governor Demands State Supreme Court to Overturn Ruling on Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a member of the Democratic Party, is urging the state’s Supreme Court to reverse its decision from 2022 that restricted the usage of drop boxes for collecting absentee ballots during elections.

In a legal document submitted to the court on April 2, coinciding with Wisconsin’s presidential primary, Governor Evers contended that the state Supreme Court’s ruling in 2022 “imposed one-size-fits-all, judicially created constraints on these municipal clerks’ authority to administer elections in a manner that is both responsive to the needs of their unique communities and compliant with the law.”

“Teigen should be overturned,” the governor added.

In the July 2022 legal dispute known as Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, the Wisconsin Supreme Court made a 4-3 decision deeming drop boxes, where individuals can submit their own and others’ ballots, as illegal according to Wisconsin statutes.

In the majority opinion penned by Justice Rebecca Bradley, she asserted that according to Wisconsin law, an absentee ballot “must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk at the clerk’s office or a designated alternate site.”

The ruling affirmed a circuit court decision stating that an eligible voter must “personally mail” their ballot, affirming that mailing or delivering the ballot in person are the only two legal ways to submit an absentee ballot.

The ruling also represented a victory for the law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), which had argued that absentee ballot drop boxes, extensively utilized during the 2020 election, lacked legal authorization according to statutes, and that the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) guidance promoting their usage was unlawful.

Back then, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court was predominantly composed of conservative justices. However, the court has since shifted to a more liberal majority, and just last month, the current justices consented to reevaluate the case despite facing strong opposition.

Drop boxes have been used in Wisconsin for years, but their usage skyrocketed in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, during which strict restrictions, such as lockdowns, were enforced.

During that year, no fewer than 500 drop boxes were established across over 430 communities, with more than a dozen each in Madison and Milwaukee, which are the two cities in the state with the strongest Democratic leanings.

“Depositing a ballot into a drop box maintained by the municipal clerk is a personal delivery to the municipal clerk in much the same way as a ballot is mailed when an individual drops it in the mailbox without waiting to watch it be collected by the postal carrier,” Mr. Evers argued in the April 2 filing.

He additionally argued that the present interpretation of the law by the state Supreme Court in this key battleground state for presidential elections “has led to confusion and inconsistency for those tasked with interpreting it.”

Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the case in May.

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