by Benjamin Yount
Voters in Wisconsin will be able to use ballot drop boxes in the next election after all.
An appeals court in Madison on Monday unanimously ruled against a Waukesha County judge who said the drop boxes are not permitted under the state’s election laws.
The appeals court says there’s not enough time to let voters know that ballot drop boxes aren’t allowed. Some ballots for the February 15th primary election have already been mailed, and some of them say voters can return their ballots to drop boxes.
“The February 2022 spring primary [is] already underway and that changing instructions about the lawful means of returning absentee ballots in the midst of an election would cause confusion for local clerks and electors alike,” the court noted in its ruling.
The Waukesha County judge ruled two weeks ago that Wisconsin lawmakers never approved of ballot drop boxes.
“It’s all good and nice, but there’s no authority to do it,” Judge Michael Bohren ruled at the time.
Bohren ordered the Wisconsin Elections Commission to withdraw its guidance to local election managers about ballot drop boxes.
The Elections Commission challenged that ruling in court.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Monday said the ruling will stop “new barriers” from being imposed on voters.
But the appeals court was clear, their ruling only applies to ballot drop boxes and the spring primary.
“We agree that the necessity for relief past that point has not yet been established. In other words, the relief we grant in this order expires on February 15, 2022, at which point, in the absence of further relief the Commission will be obliged to comply with the circuit court order,” the judges wrote.
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