Wisconsin Supreme Court To Rule On Absentee Ballot Drop Box Procedures

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear an expedited appeal of a case regarding absentee ballot drop box procedures in the state that could have an immediate and significant impact on this year’s elections.

The court is taking up the appeal of a state circuit court ruling issued January 13, holding that drop box guidance put in place by the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) for the statewide 2020 elections violates state law and could only have been implemented by a formal rulemaking procedure.

The appeal comes in the case of Teigen v. WEC, filed by the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL) in June 2021. The complaint in the case alleges that WEC improperly issued drop box guidance to election clerks in the state beginning in 2020 that encouraged their use and informed voters that third parties could return their ballots on their behalf.

The lawsuit said that the WEC acted contrary to state law and argued that absentee voting is a privilege exercised outside the “traditional safeguards” of polling places. It alleges that absentee voting is strictly controlled by state statutes and can only be done by a voter who personally mails in their ballot or delivers their ballot to the authorized clerk in person.

The trial court ruling agreeing with the plaintiffs was issued by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren. The Wisconsin Supreme Court noted that Judge Bohren found the WEC guidance goes against the state’s statutes and could only be construed as administrative rules. Such rules must be adopted according to state law procedures, which the WEC guidelines were not. Judge Bohren declared the regulations invalid and issued a permanent injunction against WEC from attempting to enforce them or any other rules not adopted according to law.

After that, the Wisconsin District 4 Court of Appeals issued an order blocking Judge Bohren’s order the day before election clerks in the state were scheduled to send out absentee ballots for elections occurring on February 15 for some primaries and local offices.

The order of the Wisconsin Supreme Court entered on January 28 allows the appeals court order to stand until the February 15 elections but grants WILL’s request for an expedited appeal schedule before the state’s highest court. The court established a briefing schedule to submit the parties’ written arguments by March 1.

Breitbart News reported that Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin by less than 21,000 votes.

Supporters of President Donald Trump have argued that the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots led to substantial and widespread voting irregularities, including improper ballot harvesting that left room for massive voter fraud.

The damage was done in 2020, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct procedures in the state going forward and to call national attention to the dangers to a free society involved in utterly insecure election procedures.