Jan 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Absentee drop boxes can't be used in Wisconsin, judge rules

Picture of a ballot drop-off location with people outside receiving ballots

Volunteers assist a voter at an early voting ballot drop-off location in Milwaukee, Wis. April 2, 2020. Photo: Thomas Werner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A judge in Wisconsin ruled on Thursday that absentee ballot drop boxes cannot be used in the state.

State of play: Absentee ballots can be returned via mail or in person, but under state law, drop boxes are not allowed, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren said.

  • Bohren said he will finalize an injunction mandating that Wisconsin's Election Commission stop advising that drop boxes can be used.

The big picture: Ballot drop boxes were widely used in Wisconsin during the 2020 election due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: "In looking at the statutes, there is no specific authorization for drop boxes," Bohren said.

  • "The Elections Commission ought to be required to more carefully follow the traditional mandates of Wisconsin law when they make major policy decisions."
  • The lawsuit was brought by two Wisconsin voters who asked the judge to block the use of drop boxes, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The other side: Thursday's "ruling creates new barriers for Wisconsinites to vote absentee," tweeted Jeff Mandell, an attorney who represented Disability Rights Wisconsin and other groups in favor of keeping drop boxes in place.

  • "In the midst of the Omicron surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. If it goes into effect, this ruling will prevent some people from casting their ballots," he added.

What to watch: The ruling is expected to be appealed, per AP.

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