Jan 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court reinstates absentee drop boxes for Wisconsin primary

Picture of a man putting a ballot in a drop box
An official ballot drop box outside the Tippecanoe branch library on Oct. 20, 2020, in Milwaukee. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Wisconsin appeals court on Monday reinstated absentee ballot drop boxes for the state's February primary, after a lower court ruled that boxes could not be used in the state.

Yes, but: The appeals court decision is only in effect for the Feb. 15 election.

  • The court could still decide what rules can be used in elections after the February primary.

Catch up fast: Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled on Jan. 13 that absentee ballots can be returned via mail or in person but that, under state law, drop boxes are not allowed.

  • The state's election commission asked the 4th District Court of Appeals to block the ruling, arguing it may cause "voter confusion and uncertainty" during the upcoming election.

What they're saying: The appellate court agreed with the commission, writing in its decision that some voters may have already deposited their ballots in drop boxes, so "at this stage of the election process, there is significant uncertainty as to whether these votes would be counted."

  • "Given this situation, the risk of confusion — and possible disenfranchisement — is compelling."

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

Read the appeals' court decision:

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