The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to bypass a recent state appeals court decision Wednesday to prohibit the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the Feb. 15 spring primary.
WILL filed the motion after the District 4 Court of Appeals issued a stay against a previous ruling that barred the use of absentee drop boxes in the state, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The State Supreme Court can take up the matter immediately or leave it with the court of appeals.
WILL, a conservative law firm, made the request after almost ten thousand absentee ballots had already been sent out or delivered, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
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In the state of Wisconsin, any registered voter may apply for an absentee ballot, according to My Vote Wisconsin. Once filled out, voters can drop off their ballots at the voter’s clerk’s office or at a polling place on Election Day. Voters can also mail their ballot back using the pre-addressed, postage paid envelope included with the ballot packet.
The final option for voters using absentee ballots is to use a ballot drop box. Voters may deliver their ballots in a drop box from the time they receive them in the mail up to the time polls close on Election Day.
According to Maggie McClain, a representative from the City of Madison Clerk’s Office, absentee ballots must be returned by Election Day in order to be counted. Drop boxes were first used in Madison for the November 2020 election after being installed in October 2020.
“Of the 120,000 absentee ballots that were returned, about 10,000 of them were returned using ballot drop boxes,” McClain said. “This isn’t a huge percentage, but they weren’t installed until later, so people had already returned their ballots other ways.”
The city also used the ballot drop boxes for elections held in February and April 2021, providing a secure way for voters to return their ballots. Ballot drop boxes are secure, locked and operated by election officials, according to McClain.
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City officials like Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway are proponents of drop boxes and have used them throughout the recent pandemic.
The voting public would have an increased interest in securely and personally returning their absentee ballots in a manner that minimized potential exposure to COVID-19 and avoided public polling places, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
According to McClain, rates of absentee voting skyrocketed in 2020 because it was the safest way people felt they could vote.