• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Wisconsin Elections Commission removes guidelines on drop boxes, which can return mail-in ballots | local government

The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted on Wednesday to remove previous guidance to local clerks allowing ballot boxes and people other than the voter to deliver mail-in ballots.

The Election Commission’s unanimous vote is in line with a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling Friday that freestanding mailbox-like drop boxes would no longer be allowed outside a local clerk’s office after the Tuesday’s spring primary. The state high court is expected to issue a final ruling on the legality of the boxes in the near future.

A central point of the case stems from guidelines issued by the commission in early 2020 to allow election clerks to use their discretion in determining whether to use drop boxes. With Wednesday’s vote, those guidelines and all references to them will be removed from the agency’s website and a letter clarifying the changes will be sent to local election officials.

“It’s up to the clerks to figure out what that means, because there won’t be any more guidelines,” said Ann Jacobs, Democratic chair of the commission.

People also read…

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled the boxes were not permitted under state law, a decision that was later temporarily stayed by the District 4 Court of Appeals. The appeals court ruled to allow drop boxes in the Feb. 15 primary to avoid confusion among voters who had already requested ballots.

The state Supreme Court issued a 4-3 decision last week denying a request by the commission and various groups seeking to extend the stay until the April 5 spring election.

“The Supreme Court has put us in a very difficult position by removing a proven method of safe and secure voting, but of course we will not compromise votes by using drop boxes at this time,” said the Mayor of Madison , Satya Rhodes-Conway. “We hope common sense will prevail.”

Madison’s 14 drop boxes will remain in place for the time being.

The ongoing battle over the use of drop boxes has persisted since the 2020 election, in part due to baseless allegations of voter fraud by former President Donald Trump, who lost Wisconsin to President Joe Biden by about 21,000 votes.

Hundreds of city workers used the boxes that year when there was still no vaccine for COVID-19 and public health officials warned against large gatherings, such as in the polling stations. At the same time, the large number of mail-in ballots requested that year, combined with U.S. Postal Service cutbacks, led many to fear that their ballots would not return in time if mailed.

The Election Commission voted in early December to begin the long process of developing administrative rules for drop boxes. Once submitted as rules, the Rules Committee of the Legislative Assembly can vote to eliminate the policies. In addition, the committee last month failed to reach a consensus on Republicans’ demand for emergency ballot box rules, in part because of the ongoing case.

The 2020 election results were confirmed by county canvassing commissions, recounts in Dane and Milwaukee counties, post-election audits by local and state election officials, and an audit of voting materials by the electoral commission. A review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Office found ways to improve the elections, but no evidence of widespread fraud. Several court decisions have also found no evidence of irregularities.


Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns Tony Evers' emergency orders and face mask mandate

Since the outbreak began, Governor Tony Evers has issued several public health emergencies and a series of related orders.


Senator Ron Johnson:

Sen. Ron called the impeachment over the weekend “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.


US Senator Ron Johnson:

“I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think I could win,” said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid.


Fort Atkinson School Board mandates masks after 13-year-old student dies

The council had previously not required masks in schools after some members of the public voiced their opposition.


Tony Evers issues new statewide mask order after GOP votes to reverse current measure

With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote against the governor’s emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be a possible court ruling.


'I just want to leave': Afghan refugees denounce conditions at Fort McCoy

Fort McCoy officials acknowledge that there were initial food supply issues, but that and other issues are being resolved.


UW System considers consolidation between UW branch campuses and technical colleges

The idea is in its infancy and all options, including refusing to pursue anything, are on the table.


Gableman threatens Madison and Green Bay mayors with jail if they don't show up for interview

Gableman asked the court, which plans to hear the case Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.


GOP-backed candidate for school chief says she's a Democrat

Deborah Kerr said she also voted for Republicans and told GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she was a “pragmatic Democrat.”


Robin Vos wants Tony Evers to lower flags in honor of late Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh

Limbaugh died Wednesday at age 70.

The ongoing battle over the use of drop boxes has persisted since the 2020 election, in part because of former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

X