‘Very disappointed’ disability rights group urges voters to make plan following Supreme Court ruling

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin election officials and advocacy groups are urging voters to make a plan to get their absentee ballots to their clerks by the close of polls on Election Day following a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.

The court ruled that a federal judge in Madison couldn’t extend the deadline for receiving ballots, as a state law that went into effect in 2016 requires ballots be in by 8 p.m. on the day of the election.

Barbara Beckert with Disability Rights-Wisconsin, one of the organizations that sued to extend the reception date, said people with disabilities were disenfranchised for the spring primary, and she didn’t want to see it again.

“We thought the additional days during a pandemic would have made a great difference,” Beckert said. “We were very disappointed that there was not an extension.”

Her organization was one of four that had cases condensed into one that landed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

A federal judge in Madison sided in part with those groups, which eventually included the Democratic National Committee, allowing for six additional days to count ballots postmarked by Election Day. Judge William Conley did not issue judgement on other pieces Disability Rights-Wisconsin wanted.

“Wisconsin is one of the states that does not have an ADA compliant, accessible, screen-reader accessible absentee ballot,” Beckert said. “So that was one of the remedies that we were seeking in the original lawsuit.”

She’s hoping for a ruling on that in the future.

As for the absentee ballot deadline extension, the majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices sided with an appeals court to block it, keeping the deadline as it was prior to litigation.

In April a court ruling allowed the state to count 79,054 ballots that arrived after the primary but before votes were canvassed.

“That’s what we’ve been prepared for that’s what we’re ready for and so really nothing changes with this,” said Reid Magney, the spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

He urged voters to find another method to return absentee ballots besides the mail.

For voters that need accommodations to vote, Beckert said her organization knows of options and help.

“If you’re a voter with a disability and you’re struggling, give us a call at the Disability Rights-Wisconsin voter help line,” she said. “We’re open every day, so you can give us a call at 844-DIS-VOTE (844-347-8683), and we will work with you to see what the options are.”