Evers urges Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse ballot drop box restrictions

Gov. Tony Evers is urging the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn its 2022 ruling that absentee banned ballot drop boxes from being used in elections by communities around the state.

Associated Press

April 2, 2024

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A pedestrian walks past a former absentee ballot drop box on Oct. 25, 2022, in Madison. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 2, 2024, to overturn a ruling that banned absentee ballot drop boxes in the presidential battleground state. (Credit: AP Photo / Scott Bauer, File)

AP News

By Scott Bauer, AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 2 to overturn a ruling that banned absentee ballot drop boxes beyond the confines of election clerks’ offices in the presidential battleground state.

In a filing the day of Wisconsin’s presidential primary, Evers asked the court to overturn a 2022 ruling that limited drop box locations. Former President Donald Trump had claimed without evidence that drop boxes led to voter fraud when he lost the state in the 2020 election. Wisconsin’s high court was controlled by conservative justices at the time. It has since flipped to liberal control and the current justices agreed last month to revisit the case brought by Priorities USA, a liberal voter mobilization group, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Voters. Oral arguments are May 13.

Wisconsin law is silent on drop boxes. Liberal advocates argue that translates into it being legal to distribute them around communities. In his April 2 filing, Evers said the 2022 court misinterpreted what it means to return a ballot to an election clerk.

“Depositing a ballot into a drop box maintained by the municipal clerk is a personal delivery to the municipal clerk in much the same way as a ballot is mailed when an individual drops it in the mailbox without waiting to watch it be collected by the postal carrier,” the filing argues.

Drop boxes have been used for years in Wisconsin, but they exploded in popularity during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. At least 500 drop boxes were set up in more than 430 communities that year, including more than a dozen each in Madison and Milwaukee, the state’s two most heavily Democratic cities.

The rules for voting in Wisconsin are of heightened interest because it’s one of a handful of battleground presidential states. Four of the past six presidential elections in Wisconsin have been decided by less than a percentage point, including the past two.

At least 29 other states allow for absentee ballot drop boxes in locations other than election offices, according to the U.S. Vote Foundation.

“All across our country, election officials have chosen to use drop boxes to ensure that all eligible voters can freely cast their ballots,” Evers said in a statement. “Drop box voting is safe and secure, and there is nothing in Wisconsin’s election laws that prohibit our local clerks from using this secure option.”

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