Wisconsin Supreme Court Disallows Ballot Drop Boxes Like Superior Uses
Voters who took part in the primary on February 15 in Superior were perhaps the last to be able to use the absentee ballot drop boxes that have been located in the circle drive-through on the north side of the Government Center. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that the boxes won't be allowed for use during the upcoming general election on April 5.
The ruling comes after a back and forth on the issue between local and state election officials and the court system.
According to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court offers the latest judgement on the issue that's been seeing court action since the beginning of the year.
In January, "Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled.....that absentee ballot drop boxes [were] illegal in Wisconsin". At the time, Judge Bohren put plans in place to have his ruling take effect immediately.
That immediacy was tempered when "[a] state Appeals Court issued a stay of that....ruling, temporarily blocking it from taking effect for the [then upcoming] February 15 primary".
The ruling by the state Appeals Court and a further ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court seemed to side with both parties on some accounts. They did issue a stay on Judge Bohren's ruling that would have pulled the absentee ballot drop boxes from use during the February primary - saying that it was too close to the election to have them disappear.
However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court did rule that there "was enough time to make the change ahead of the April 5 election". The ruling stated that:
"[t]his is a different inquiry. The record before us, including the timetable for making the necessary administrative changes as outlined by the court of appeals, indicates that the (Wisconsin Elections) Commission can comply."
In their ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court acknowledged the "sense of whiplash" that state election clerks must be experiencing due to the back and forth nature of the changes. They offered that "[p]rocedures that were in effect for at least the last two years regarding drop boxes and absentee voting are no longer in effect, but may be again in a few months. The majority's order is seemingly oblivious to the practicalities of election administration".
This ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court isn't considered the final verdict on the issue - only a ruling on the upcoming elections. Their decision about whether or not to allow absentee ballot drop boxes after that is still to come.