Dane County judge refuses to immediately allow partial absentee addresses
Rise Inc. filed a lawsuit seeking a judicial order requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission to tell local clerks that they must accept absentee ballots as long as the witness address includes enough information that clerks can reasonably discern where the witness can be contacted.
October 7, 2022
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Dane County judge refused Oct. 7 to issue a temporary order that would allow local election clerks to accept partial witness addresses on absentee ballots.
A group called Rise Inc. filed a lawsuit in September seeking a judicial order requiring the Wisconsin Elections Commission to tell local clerks that they must accept ballots as long as the witness address includes enough information that clerks can reasonably discern where the witness can be contacted. The day after the group filed the lawsuit its attorneys asked Judge Juan Colas to issue a temporary injunction mandating the commission issue that guidance to clerks.
Colas refused to issue the order during a hearing on the morning of Oct. 7, online court records indicate. The case will continue with a scheduling conference set for Oct. 17.
Rise Inc., which encourages students to vote, sued after a Waukesha County judge sided with Republicans in September and said clerks are barred from filling in missing witness information on ballot envelopes. The judge struck down guidance the elections commission put in place in 2016, saying nothing in state law allows clerks to do that.
The practice was unchallenged until Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Joe Biden in 2020. About 1.4 million voters cast absentee ballots in that election, held before COVID-19 vaccines were available.
The League of Women Voters filed a similar lawsuit in Dane County in September seeking an order saying absentee ballots with partial witness addresses should be accepted. That case remains pending.