Ballot Drop Boxes Banned by Wisconsin Supreme Court

The court ruled in a 4-3 decision Friday.

QUICK FACTS:
  • In a narrow ruling issued on Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court outlawed the use of unattended ballot drop boxes for ballot collection.
  • Voters will not be permitted to give their ballots to someone else to be dropped off for them, the court ruled in a 4-3 decision, and they cannot turn their ballots into unmanned drop boxes.
  • The court ruled in a suit brought by two Wisconsin citizens that voters will have the choice of mailing or casting their ballots in person.
  • Neither the general election nor the primary in August will make use of unattended drop boxes.
  • The suit was brought against the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
  • The lawsuit alleged that ballot drop boxes “causes doubts about the fairness of the elections and erodes voter confidence in the electoral process.” 
THE JUDGES’ OPINIONS:
  • Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority decision, saying, “The key phrase is ‘in person’ and it must be assigned its natural meaning. 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.”
  • The court’s liberal-leaning justices dissented to the restriction of the ballot delivery systems that have been implicated in voter fraud in the last election.
  • Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote for the dissent, “Although it pays lip service to the import of the right to vote, the majority/lead opinion has the practical effect of making it more difficult to exercise it.”
BACKGROUND:
  • The state supreme court’s decision came after an appeal was made over a lower court ruling that also banned the use of the drop boxes.
  • During the last general election, an estimated 500 ballot drop boxes were used in the swing state of Wisconsin.
  • Wisconson has been the subject of several election fraud claims and has seen an ongoing investigation of their voter rolls.