A Waukesha County judge ruled Thursday that ballot drop boxes cannot be used in the state of Wisconsin, asserting that the Wisconsin Elections Commission has “no authority” to permit the drop boxes.
“It’s all good and nice, but there’s no authority to do it,” said Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren.
Judge Bohren made the determination in response to a lawsuit filed by voters represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), The Federalist explained Monday.
Notably, Bohren’s ruling also blocks outsiders from returning a voter’s absentee ballot for them. “That means political groups can’t pick up ballots for voters — a practice that has not been widely used in Wisconsin,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In a press release, WILL said Judge Bohren’s decision bans ballot harvesting.
The plaintiffs “argued that state law allowed for only two methods of returning an absentee ballot: Through the mail or in person at the municipal clerk’s office. Nowhere does it allow for a ballot to be dropped off in a drop box,” The Federalist report outlined. Additionally, Wisconsin law clearly states that no person “may receive a ballot from or give a ballot to a person other than the election official in charge.”
Still, ahead of the 2020 election, the Wisconsin Elections Commission indicated in a memo to clerks that “‘a family member or another person may also return the ballot on behalf of the voter’ and that ballots could be returned in drop boxes instead of in person at the clerk’s office,” The Federalist said. Some 500 drop boxes were set up across the state, collecting tens of thousands of absentee ballots in the 2020 general election.
“The guidance from the Wisconsin Elections Commission on absentee ballot drop boxes was unlawful. There are just two legal methods to cast an absentee ballot in Wisconsin: through the mail or in-person at a clerk’s office,” said WILL Deputy Counsel, Luke Berg. “And voters must return their own ballots. We are pleased the court made this clear, providing Wisconsin voters with certainty for forthcoming elections.”
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden delivered a controversial speech outlining Democrats’ plan to overhaul the nation’s election laws by passing the so-called “Freedom To Vote Act.”
The president caught backlash when he likened opponents of the radical voting legislation to racists.
“So I ask every elected official in America: how do you want to be remembered? …Do you want to be the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?… Do you want to be the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? This is the moment to decide…,” Biden said.
Judge Bohren said a finalized injunction was forthcoming “ordering the state Elections Commission to withdraw long-standing advice to municipal clerks around the state that says they can use absentee ballot drop boxes,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The ruling is expected to be appealed.