(The Center Square) — A judge’s ruling that ballot drop boxes are not allowed in Wisconsin is being met with a chorus of criticism from local Democrats.
Waukesha County Judge Michael Bohren on Thursday ruled that the Wisconsin Elections Commission cannot create a new way of voting in the state.
“I’m satisfied that there is no authority, no statutory authority to issue, to have drop boxes used for the collection of absentee ballots,” the judge ruled.
More to the point, the judge said Wisconsin law allows for just two ways to cast a ballot — in person or through the mail.
“The statute is clear. It’s not ambiguous,” the judge said Thursday.
That part of the ruling also ends ballot harvesting in the state. Specifically, it would ban events like Democracy in the Park, which saw volunteers collect thousands of absentee ballots from voters in Madison before the November 2020 election.
Democrats in Wisconsin say the ruling is an “attack on Democracy.”
“This ruling, on a suit brought by Republican operatives, is an attack on our freedom to vote. Absentee ballot drop boxes provide an easy, accessible, and safe way for voters to cast a ballot,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler said. “Drop boxes are not new, but they became more widely used than ever in 2020 when Wisconsinites were voting during the coronavirus pandemic. They remain necessary as we face new COVID variants.”
Gov. Tony Evers on Friday echoed Wikler’s sentiments.
“It should be easier for everyone who is eligible to vote, not harder. Creating unnecessary barriers to voting is not what we should strive for as Americans,” the governor said on Twitter.
The judge’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
WILL’s Luke Berg says they are pleased that there will be “certainty” for the upcoming elections.
The judge is expected to finalize his ruling, and give the state’s Elections Commission 10 days to rescind its guidance to local election clerks about the use of ballot drop boxes.
An appeal is expected.