Written by Ashton Snyder on
 July 6, 2024

WI Supreme Court Reinstates Ballot Drop Boxes

A recent ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court is poised to significantly impact voting methods in the state.

The court's liberal majority has reinstated the use of ballot drop boxes, reversing a decision from two years ago as the state gears up for an election, as the New York Times reports.

This decision overturns a previous ruling by the former conservative majority, which had restricted their use.

With a presidential election just four months away, this move will impact how ballots are submitted and counted in Wisconsin. The state, often a focal point in national elections due to its sharp political divisions, could play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the Electoral College.

Ruling Highlights Partisan Divisions

The ruling has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans, who argue that it reveals partisan motives within the court. This is reflective of prior Democratic grievances when the court had a conservative majority.

Ballot drop boxes serve as an alternate method for voters to cast their ballots before Election Day. They gained prominence during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an increase in early voting by mail and in person. Following the 2020 election, Republicans initiated legal actions that significantly curtailed the use of drop boxes. The argument was centered on claims of potential fraud and concerns over the security of the drop boxes.

Opinions from the Justices

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, writing for the majority, emphasized that the ruling permits municipal clerks to use drop boxes at their discretion. "Our decision today does not force or require that any municipal clerks use drop boxes. It merely acknowledges what Wisconsin law has always meant: that clerks may lawfully utilize secure drop boxes in an exercise of their statutorily conferred discretion," she wrote.

On the other hand, Justice Rebecca Bradley dissented, accusing the majority of abandoning legal principles to pursue a political agenda. "The majority again forsakes the rule of law in an attempt to advance its political agenda," she stated.

The decision is another step in an ongoing battle over voting regulations and practices in Wisconsin. It illustrates the broader national conflict over how elections should be conducted.

Court Shift Implicates Key Debates

Democrats and progressive groups in Wisconsin have been pushing for reforms to address Republican gerrymandering and other contentious issues. Following the shift to a liberal majority last year, the court took steps to redraw legislative district boundaries, aiming to correct perceived imbalances.

In addition, the court is set to hear another significant case that will decide if the State Constitution encompasses the right to abortion. This decision could have profound implications for women's rights and reproductive healthcare in Wisconsin.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's majority opinion affirms the lawful use of drop boxes, effectively reverting to practices in place before the 2020 ban. The court's decision underscores the ongoing clashes over voting methods and election integrity in Wisconsin.

As the next election approaches, the reinstatement of drop boxes may influence voter turnout and accessibility. With Wisconsin's status as a known battleground state, the ruling could have significant repercussions in the broader context of national election.

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About Ashton Snyder


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