Lawsuits over ballot drop boxes filed in 5 Wisconsin cities
MADISON, Wis. (AP/WISC) — Conservatives filed lawsuits in Wisconsin’s five largest cities Wednesday over the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the 2020 election, even as the state Supreme Court was poised to rule on the issue in coming weeks.
The lawsuits were filed by the conservative Thomas More Society, which has also brought lawsuits in the same cities challenging the legality of private grant money awarded in 2020 to help run the election from a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. A judge last week voiced skepticism about the lawsuit filed against Madison, citing previous court rulings that determined the funding was legal.
The latest lawsuits target the use of absentee ballot drop boxes. Hundreds of drop boxes were used statewide in the 2020 election, but the lawsuit only challenges their use in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay — all cities won by President Joe Biden.
State law is silent on drop boxes, but the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission had told local election officials they could be placed at multiple locations.
A Waukesha County Circuit Court judge ruled in January that state law prohibits drop boxes outside of a clerk’s office. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in February barred the use of drop boxes outside election clerk offices for the April spring election, but has not yet issued a ruling on whether they can be used going forward.
On the same day the suits were filed, a group rallied at the Capitol in support of drop boxes, arguing helping people vote should not be illegal. Organizers said prohibitions on absentee ballot return assistance and the elimination of drop boxes would make it difficult — if not impossible — for many elderly and disabled voters to return their ballots.