New lawsuit challenges ballot dropboxes, ballot harvesting in Wisconsin

There is a new lawsuit challenging ballot dropboxes and absentee ballot collections in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the suit Monday, just days after the Wisconsin Supreme Court side-stepped a legal challenge on the same questions.

“Wisconsin voters deserve certainty that elections are conducted fairly and in accordance with state law. But the Wisconsin Elections Commission is giving advice to clerks that is contrary to the law, putting the ballots of countless voters at risk,” WILL’s Rick Essenberg said.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Friday to dismiss a legal challenge to dropboxes and ballot harvesting. Swing justice Brian Hagedorn joined the court’s liberal justices in dismissing the claim for technical reasons.

WILL’s lawsuit pushes the question again.

“Under [Wisconsin law] there are only two methods allowed for casting an absentee ballot: (1) the U.S. Mail, and (2) handing the envelope containing the ballot in person to the municipal clerk,” the lawsuit reads. “This requirement with respect to how to cast an absentee ballot must be read in conjunction with [another state law] which provides that no person may ‘receive a ballot from or give a ballot to a person other than the election official in charge.’”

WILL said state law is clear about dropboxes and ballot collections. And the group claims the Wisconsin Elections Commission is ignoring those laws.

“Despite the clarity of the law, WEC sent a memo to municipal clerks regarding the return of absentee ballots dated March 31, 2020,” the lawsuit states. “In paragraph two of the March 2020 WEC Memo it states that third persons other than the voter may return a voter’s absentee ballot. Specifically, the memo says that ‘A family member or another person may also return the ballot on behalf of the voter.’”

Former Dane County Judge Jim Troupis on Monday said the lawsuit from WILL is likely one of many that will press the Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide on the merits of ballot dropboxes and ballot collections before the 2022 election season.

“There have to be simultaneous actions brought in multiple counties, on multiple theories,” Troiupis told Vicki McKenna on News Talk 1130 WISN. “And there has to be a motion to the new chief justice to consolidate those actions, and demand that they be resolved within 60 days.”

Troupis said Wisconsin clerks need to know what the law is, and voters in the state have to have confidence that the law is being followed.

“[The Wisconsin Supreme Court] won’t tell us what the law is. They won’t tell us how to enforce the law,” Troupis explained. “If you were trying to write a scenario where people would distrust elections, you would do exactly what our state supreme court is doing. And that is so disappointing to me.”

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