The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Friday in a 4-3 decision that the use of most ballot drop boxes are unlawful. The Court held that state law does not permit drop boxes anywhere other than election clerk offices, unless otherwise decided by state lawmakers.
“Ballot drop boxes appear nowhere in the detailed statutory system for absentee voting,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority. Bradley said that the Wisconsin Election Committee “may have been trying to make voting as easy as possible during the pandemic, but whatever their motivations, WEC must follow Wisconsin statutes. Good intentions never override the law.”
The WEC set up at least 528 ballot drop boxes for the 2020 presidential election, according to the Wall Street Journal. The drop boxes were heavily criticized by former President Donald Trump, who lost Wisconsin by 20,682 votes. He has repeatedly claimed that absentee voting is susceptible to fraud.
Bradley stated that “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,” adding, “The record evidence [the Wisconsin Elections Commission] cited does not support its argument that ballot drop boxes have been in common and longstanding use in this state.”
Justice Brian Hagedorn said in a separate concurring opinion that the court’s role “was not about ensuring everyone who wants to vote can, nor should we be concerned with making absentee voting more convenient and secure.” Rather, he said, “Those are policy concerns, and where the law does not speak, they are the business of the other branches, not the judicial branch.”
“Our obligation is to follow the law, which may mean the policy result is undesirable or unpopular. Even so, we must follow the law anyway. To the extent the citizens of Wisconsin wish the law were different, the main remedy is to vote and persuade elected officials to enact different laws. This is the hard work of democracy,” Hagedorn wrote, as noted by The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
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