Wisconsin judge rules absentee ballot drop boxes not permitted by state law

A Wisconsin judge on Thursday ruled against the state’s use of absentee ballot drop boxes. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 14 (UPI) — A judge in Wisconsin has ruled absentee ballot drop boxes, which were deployed to a slew of communities during the 2020 general election, are not permitted in the state.

Judge Michael Bohren issued the summary judgement decision in court Thursday, stating that nothing in state law allows for the voting practice, which was put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The elected judge also ruled against the Wisconsin Elections Commission from dispersing guidance on absentee drop boxes.

“It’s all good and nice, but there’s no authority to do it,” Bohren said on the use of drop boxes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The ruling comes in a case filed by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of Wisconsin residents Richard Teigen and Richard Thom who challenged the Wisconsin Election Commission use of drop boxes in the election.

WILL argued that there is only two ways to cast an absentee ballot in the state: by mail or by handing it in an envelope in person to the municipal clerk.

According to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, more than 500 absentee ballot boxes were deployed during the general election.

WILL also argued against memos the WEC issued in March and August offering guidance on drop box options, stating they are both incorrect statements that “have led to local election officials in Wisconsin administering elections incorrectly under Wisconsin law.”

WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg celebrated the ruling in a statement, saying it means that voters “must return their own ballots.”

“We are pleased the court made this clear, providing Wisconsin voters with certainty for forthcoming elections,” he said.

WEC spokesperson Riley Vetterkind told NPR that they plan to review the court’s order “and consult with legal counsel in the coming days.”

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