Conservative Group Sues Over Use of Election Van in Racine, Wisconsin

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a conservative group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Wisconsin voter against the city clerk of Racine, Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) challenging the use of mobile voting facilities and alternate absentee voting sites throughout the community.

This legal action comes after WEC dismissed WILL’s administrative complaint seeking to prohibit Racine’s use of alternate absentee voting sites and mobile voting facilities. In this newly filed legal action appealing WEC’s dismissal of the administrative complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the city clerk of Racine violated Wisconsin law by allowing voters to cast absentee ballots at an “election van” that moves from place to place to allow for early in-person absentee voting during the Aug. 9, 2022, primary as well as the Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections. 

In the complaint, the plaintiff claims that the use of mobile voting sites violates multiple provisions of Wisconsin law. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that under Wisconsin law, alternate absentee ballot sites, such as the challenged “election van,” “shall be located as near as practicable to the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners,” but the 21 alternate sites for the August primary and November elections “were not as near as practicable to the office of the Clerk.”

Additionally, the plaintiff contends that the alternate absentee voting sites “afforded an advantage to one or more political parties.” The complaint further argues that by permitting in-person absentee voting to occur at City Hall, where the Racine city clerk’s office is also located, the city clerk violated Wisconsin law. Moreover, the plaintiff claims that mobile voting sites violate provisions of Wisconsin law, which according to the complaint do “not permit temporary, shifting locations” and instead require “alternate site[s] [to] remain in place until the day after the election.”

Finally, the plaintiff contends that Wisconsin law requires polling places to be located in buildings “and not in a transitory vehicle such as a van or bus.” The plaintiff ultimately asks the court to reverse WEC’s dismissal of its original administrative complaint and to prohibit the defendants from “engaging in the unlawful conduct” alleged in this newly filed legal complaint

Despite WEC’s Nov. 4 decision dismissing WILL’s administrative complaint on the grounds that there is “no probable cause to believe a violation of law or abuse of discretion has occurred with regard to the City of Racine’s use of alternate absentee voting sites and mobile facilities” — as well as earlier attempts to debunk baseless claims made by conservatives about the alleged illegality of mobile voting sites — the conservative group has now turned to the courts with the aim of obtaining judicial relief in order to outlaw what they derisively consider to be a “‘Green Eggs and Ham’ approach to voting.”

Notably, WILL mounted a successful legal challenge against the use of drop boxes throughout Wisconsin that resulted in the Wisconsin Supreme Court banning their use altogether. At the root of WILL’s newest lawsuit is yet another attempt to hamper Racine’s efforts to increase 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 disproportionately benefit Democrats over Republicans. 

Read the complaint here.

Learn more about the case here.