WASHINGTON D.C. — On Aug. 8, a conservative group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission against the city clerk of Racine challenging her recent use of a mobile voting van. Under Wisconsin law, clerks can designate alternate absentee ballot sites if the clerk’s office is unavailable for in-person voting. For the state’s Aug. 9, 2022 primary, the Racine city clerk permitted the use of an “election van” that moves from place to place to allow for early in-person absentee voting. The complaint alleges that this election van violates Wisconsin law, which, according to the plaintiff, requires “that a polling place will be a building” and does not allow sites to change locations or to be temporary. The complaint requests that the city clerk be prevented from permitting any in-person alternate absentee ballot sites, such as the election van, other than those specifically allowed under Wisconsin law.
Among other claims, the plaintiff argues that the election van “afforded an advantage to the Democratic Party.” In support of this, the plaintiff suggests that “[m]any of the 21 alternate sites advantage the Democratic Party and some advantage the Republican Party.” In other words, this conservative group takes issue with increasing accessibility to voting — by allowing voters to use the van to vote in a place that is convenient in their community — out of fear that increasing access to voting will benefit Democrats more than Republicans. This complaint comes after several Republicans have publicly criticized the van, claiming that it violates the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent decision banning drop boxes. These claims were subsequently debunked after the Racine County clerk clarified that a van does not function as a drop box, but rather operates like a brick-and-mortar polling location.