Wisconsin Supreme Court bans the use of ballot drop boxes

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday in a 4-3 vote to ban the use of unmanned drop boxes for collecting election ballots.

According to The Daily Wire, the court ruled that Wisconsin voters would not “be allowed to give their ballots to others to drop off for them” but would be allowed to “turn their ballots in-person or mail them in.”

The decision guarantees that drop boxes cannot be used for the August primary or the general election in November.

Ahead of the 2020 Presidential Election, the Wisconsin Elections Commission issued guidance for clerks instructing them to collect absentee ballots through drop boxes. The commission said this was implemented because more residents voted absentee due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In January, Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled that under state law there is no authorization for drop boxes and ordered the Wisconsin Election Commission to rescind its guidance, which they challenged.

CNN reports that the state’s Supreme Court “ruled that the Wisconsin Election Commission – a six-member panel that helps oversee voting in the state – had overstepped its authority when it issued guidance to local election clerks to allow the use of drop boxes to return absentee ballots in the 2020 election, during the height of the pandemic.”

The lawsuit named several groups beyond the Wisconsin Election Commission, such as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, all of whom were pushing for the drop box protocol that had similarities to ballot harvesting.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s majority decision read, “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 alternative site.” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote the majority decision and added that the key quality to voting is being “‘in person’ and it must be assigned its natural meaning.”

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, no relation to Rebecca, wrote the dissenting opinion and said “Without justification, [the majority] fans the flames of electoral doubt that threaten our democracy.”

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