Wisconsin Supreme Court Reinstates Unstaffed Drop Boxes Ahead Of 2024 Election

 Well, well, well - the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with its liberal majority, issued a ruling on Friday that reinstates the use of unstaffed drop boxes ahead of the 2024 election.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Reinstates Unstaffed Drop Boxes Ahead Of 2024 Election
City of Milwaukee employees, Steven Coleman, left, and Larry Ponder remove ballots from a ballot drop box on the sidewalk outside the Washington Park Library on in Milwaukee October 3, 2020.

In a 4-3 decision that reverses their own 2022 prohibition on unmanned dropboxes, the justices agreed with Democrats who argued that the Wisconsin Supreme Court had previously misinterpreted the law in its 2022 ruling, and wrongly concluded that absentee ballots can only be returned to a clerk in their office, and not to a drop box that is located elsewhere.

"What if we just got it wrong?" said Justice Jill Karofsky during May arguments. "What if we made a mistake? Are we now supposed to just perpetuate that mistake into the future?"

Attorneys representing Republican backers of the 2022 ruling argued that there have been no changes in the facts or the law to warrant overturning the ruling that's less than two years old.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Reinstates Unstaffed Drop Boxes Ahead Of 2024 Election
The Wisconsin Supreme Court listens to arguments during a redistricting hearing at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on Nov. 21, 2023. (Ruthie Hauge/The Capital Times via AP)

As the Epoch Times notes further, Misha Tseytlin, attorney for the Republican-controlled Legislature, argued that if the court overturned the ruling, it would have to revisit the issue again the next time the makeup of the court changes.

There will be a vacancy on the court next year as Justice Ann Walsh Bradley won’t be running for reelection.

But Justice Karofsky asked what the court was to do if it believed the earlier decision was “egregiously wrong from the start, that its reasoning was exceptionally weak and that the decision has had damaging consequences.”

I see this as check, check, check here, so what are we to do?” she asked Mr. Tseytlin.

David Fox, attorney for the groups that brought the challenge, said the current law is unworkable because it’s not explicitly clear where ballots can be returned.

Several justices questioned the need to revisit the earlier ruling.

You are asking this court to be a super Legislature” and give “free rein to municipal clerks to conduct elections however they see fit,” Justice Rebecca Bradley said.

The case was brought by Priorities USA, a voter mobilization group, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Voters. Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which administers elections, support allowing drop boxes.

Election officials from four counties, including the two largest counties, filed a brief in support of overturning the ruling. They argue absentee ballot drop boxes have been used for decades without incident as a secure way for voters to return their ballots.

More than 1,600 absentee ballots arrived at clerks’ offices after Election Day in 2022, when drop boxes were not in use, and therefore were not counted, plaintiffs’ attorneys noted in their arguments. But in 2020, when drop boxes were in use and nearly three times as many people voted absentee, only 689 ballots arrived after the election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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