by Benjamin Yount
Wisconsin should soon have an answer about ballot drop boxes and just who can return absentee ballots.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday morning in the case Richard Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission.
It is the challenge to the Elections Commission’s guidance to local election managers that voters can drop off their ballots, or ballots from other voters at drop boxes.
“[State law] says there are only two ways to return an absentee ballot, you mail it or you deliver it in-person to the clerk. And a drop box is neither of those, which is why they’re not allowed, ” Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty senior counsel Luke Berg told The Center Square. “But the other side says ‘Well, ya know it doesn’t say clearly that you can’t have a drop box.’”
WILL is arguing the case.
Wisconsin has been waiting for a final decision on drop boxes and absentee ballots for months.
A Waukesha County judge back in January ruled drop boxes are not allowed under state law, but the case was appealed and in February the Appeals Court allowed counties and cities to use them during the February primary. The Wisconsin Supreme Court then banned them for the April election, pending their decision in the case.
Though a handful of cities, including Milwaukee, continued to use drop boxes during the April election as well.
Berg said Wednesday’s argument should settle the question once and for all.
“This should be the final decision from the court on both ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting. We should get an answer on both of those questions,” Berg explained. “Now, the other side has some arguments as to why the court shouldn’t answer those questions now. They say [WILL doesn’t] have standing, and we should have gone a different procedural route. But I highly doubt the court will go that route.”
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has a conservative majority on paper, but swing Justice Brian Hagedorn has often ruled with the court’s liberals. Hagedorn sided with the conservatives on the most recent ballot drop box ruling.
The hearing comes as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Tuesday that communities handled ballot drop boxes and absentee ballots differently during last week’s election.
The Court’s Ruling could also impact an Election Day challenge from Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, tclaiming Racine’s decision to allow voters to return other people’s ballots essentially disenfranchised some voters in the county.
The high court will hear arguments in the case Wednesday morning.
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