Wisconsin Supreme Court: Ballot drop boxes not allowed by state law

"Good intentions never override the law," the court said.

A drop box for absentee ballots. (Shutterstock/Ayman Haykal)

(The Center Square) — Voters are going to have one less option come Election Day in Wisconsin.

The state’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the drop boxes used by many communities in the elections in 2020 are not allowed by state law.

“[The Wisconsin Elections Commission] staff 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,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in the 4-3 decision.

The court’s liberal justices said the ruling “seeks to sow distrust” in the state elections, and makes it harder for people to vote.

“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,” Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in her opinion.

The reaction to the ruling was equally split.

“Today’s decision demonstrates that the rule of law prevails and the illegal drop boxes are finally going to stop. This is a giant step forward in our efforts to ensure election integrity,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Friday. “Our next step has to be electing a new governor who will sign additional election reforms.”

“Today’s decision is another in a long line of Wisconsin Republicans’ successes to make it harder for Wisconsinites to exercise their right to vote, to undermine our free, fair, and secure elections, and to threaten our democracy,” Gov. Tony Evers said in his statement.

The Thomas More Society’s Erick Kaardal said the ruling outlawing ballot drop boxes is just the “tip of the iceberg” of Wisconsin’s election integrity issues.

“Yes, the 2020 election is over and done with,” Kaardal said. “But it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the corruption that infected Wisconsin’s voting process in November 2020 is rooted out and that the state’s election integrity is preserved. It is especially important that the Wisconsin Election Commission, the entity charged with safeguarding the state’s election integrity, be above reproach. Wisconsin’s voters deserve to know the truth and they need to be assured that the corruption has been eliminated, allowing for fair and honest elections from this point forward.”

The ruling does allow local election clerks or commissions to setup a drop box in their election office, but the court has banned the use of unmanned drop boxes throughout the state unless or until lawmakers change the state’s election law.


Benjamin Yount
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An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.