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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.

Go deeper

Democrats take voting rights fight to state-level races

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Photos: Natalie Kolb/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images (left); Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democratic gubernatorial candidates are unveiling their own voting rights plans ahead of this fall's midterms.

Why it matters: Congressional Democrats have, so far, failed to deliver federal legislation. Because Republicans have succeeded in introducing restrictions at the state and local levels, the ability to vote in 2022 will largely depend on where a person lives. That makes state executive races a high priority for both parties.

2 hours ago - World

Report: LGBTQ+ Afghans' lives "dramatically worsened" under Taliban rule

Taliban fighters in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this month. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images

LGBTQ+ Afghans have been threatened, attacked and "faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety" since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last August, per a report published Wednesday.

What they're saying: "We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them," per a statement from study co-author J. Lester Feder.

3 hours ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.