Oct 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Wisconsin court upholds "ballot spoiling" ban ahead of midterm elections

Ballots are distributed for use on Wisconsins state primary day on August 9, 2022 at Concord Community Center in Sullivan, WI.

Ballots are distributed for use on Wisconsin's primary day in August. Photo: Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

A Wisconsin appeals court refused to overturn a previous lower court's ruling that bans the practice of "ballot spoiling" — in which voters who already submitted an absentee ballot can cancel it and vote again, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: The Wisconsin ruling comes as federal officials warn about potential threats ahead of the 2022 midterms related to election outcomes and voter fraud.

Details: The 2nd District Court of Appeals decided Thursday not to hear an appeal to a Circuit Court judge's ruling earlier in October that banned the "ballot spoiling" practice, AP reports.

  • The ruling required the Wisconsin Elections Commission to "rescind its guidance that allowed the spoiling of ballots that had already been cast," AP reports.
  • Voters who have an absentee ballot but haven't voted yet and want a new one can still receive a new ballot, per AP.

Flashback: "Ballot spoiling" became an issue in Wisconsin during the 2022 August primary after Republican and Democratic candidates dropped out of the race but left their names on the ballot, per WITI-TV.

  • The elections commission said at the time that voters who had already cast absentee ballots could spoil their votes and vote for someone else in the race.
  • The group Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections said ballot spoiling would only create more confusion and opportunities for fraud, AP reports.

The big picture: The ruling comes as federal officials are warning about potential dangers during and after the upcoming midterms.

  • Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI that "perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes" could lead to "heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets," CNN reports.

Go deeper: Officials brace for unprecedented efforts to disrupt 2022 vote

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