The fate of absentee ballot boxes during the trial in the Wisconsin Supreme Court case

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a case that could determine the use of absentee ballot box in the state election both This year and more.

The results could affect turnout in two key races, in which Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Republican Senator Ron Johnson are seeking re-election, with the The primaries are scheduled for August.

The state’s high court will hear arguments over the voting method criticized by former President Donald Trump and his allies, who falsely claimed that absentee ballot boxes led to widespread voter fraud in 2020. Wisconsin is one of many states where Republicans, often at Trump’s urging, have waged a war over the practice.

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The case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court marks the latest chapter in the legal story about the use of absentee ballot boxes. In February, the court allowed the drop-box ban to remain in effect for local elections in April. The seven-member court broke 4-3 along ideological lines in the ruling, and issued an injunction that would allow residents to return absentee ballots from fellow voters.

Voting rights advocates have argued that eliminating absentee ballot boxes would make it harder for more voters to cast their ballots – a position the court’s liberal wing opposed in the February ruling.

“The greatest harm of majority error may be the sabotage of the electoral process itself,” wrote Justice Ann Walsh Bradley at the time. “Indeed, the only parties not harmed by today’s decision are those that will cast undue doubt on our elections.”

Trump has repeatedly suggested without evidence that drop boxes were the source of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, which he lost. He has focused many of his false claims on states that President Joe Biden has won by small margins.

Biden beat Trump with less than 21,000 votes in Wisconsin.

There is no evidence that polling boxes – mailbox-like boxes that provide voters with a convenient way to cast their ballots – facilitate fraud and that election officials created measures safeguards to ensure that mail-in ballots are cast by eligible voters. Each state has its own regulations; Typically, mail-in ballots are verified by election officials, who analyze signatures on them against signatures in registered voter records.

The litigation before the state Supreme Court was brought up on behalf of two voters by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative organization. In January, a Waukesha County Circuit judge ruled for the first time on the case by saying that absentee ballot boxes cannot be used in Wisconsin. The judge said state law allows absentee ballots to be returned in person or by mail – but not in a ballot box – and that absentee ballots can only be delivered to or mailed to local election clerk’s office by voters.

Conservatives have derided giving or mailing ballots as “voting harvesting”.

A state appeals court then ruled that the small boxes could be used in the state’s judicial primaries in February, because they happened too soon after the ruling. decision of the district court. The state Supreme Court then took over the case and agreed that the boxes could be used in February but not in April.

A final ruling is expected by the end of June.

In Wednesday’s oral arguments, Wisconsin court watchers will turn to Justice Brian Hagedorn, the court’s fierce vote. Hagedorn, who joined his conservatives for the drop box ban to go into effect in the April election, has ruled against Trump and his allies in numerous lawsuits aimed at overturning the election results. 2020.

Hagedorn’s line of questions Wednesday could signal the fate of drop boxes, especially given the murky regulations surrounding the matter.

Because Wisconsin law does not include a drop box provision, the state allow both attendance and unattended Drop box is used – and it’s been around for years. However, the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a nonpartisan organization that oversees elections in the state, issued guidance in 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, allowing election clerks to optionally local places dropboxes in any position.

But the action stalled when a Waukesha County judge ordered the committee to rescind the guidance in January.

The lack of clarity has led Republicans who control the Legislature to push to draft bills to create rules governing the placement of drop boxes.

Republican lawmakers enacted limits on drop boxes in Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Iowa last year.

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