BREAKING: Wisconsin county judge rules against ballot drop boxes

"A shoebox on a bench in a park would be legal for collecting ballots. Now, that's absurd, of course. But that's the logical consequence of the position that the commission is taking."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA

A Wisconsin county judge ruled Thursday that absentee ballot boxes are not allowed under state law.

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 on how to use drop boxes, according to NPR.

"In looking at the statutes, there is no specific authorization for drop boxes," Bohren said.

Judge Bohren ruled in favor of Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and their lawsuit against the state's election commission.

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, according to NPR.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Kilpatrick, the attorney for WEC, argued that the documents are supposed to be used as advice or "guidance" to local clerks who run elections, not as an order.

"These memos are guidance documents because they guide local election officials," Kilpatrick said. "They do not order them to do anything."

WILL attorney Luke Berg argued that there is no written law in the state of Wisconsin that allows for the use of drop boxes, or anything similar for that matter.

"A shoebox on a bench in a park would be legal for collecting ballots," Berg said. "Now, that's absurd, of course. But that's the logical consequence of the position that the commission is taking."

The Elections Commission had until January 27 to rescind its drop box guidance to clerks following Judge Bohren's ruling but they have the chance to appeal the ruling, which they plan to do.

"Staff and WEC commissioners plan to review the court's order and consult with legal counsel in the coming days," Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson Riley Vetterkind said.

Judge Bohren's ruling comes at the same time Democrats struggle to end the filibuster that is preventing them from passing "voter rights laws" that propose sweeping changes to election law and would bar states from enacting their own laws without federal approval. This as many conservative led states have implemented voter integrity laws that, in many cases, expand early voting.


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