WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Nov. 7, a Wisconsin judge ruled from the bench during a hearing and rejected a Republican request seeking to segregate and halt the counting of absentee ballots cast by voters in the military. This decision stems from a lawsuit brought on behalf of the Concerned Veterans of Waukesha County, two Wisconsin voters and state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) alleging that WEC must immediately sequester and stop counting absentee ballots completed by voters in the military. The lawsuit was filed after Milwaukee Elections Commissioner Deputy Director Kimberly Zapata illegally requested three military absentee ballots under fake names and sent them to Brandtjen; Zapata was later fired and charged with a felony for doing so. Pointing to this incident, the plaintiffs allege that “vulnerability” with WEC’s system for distributing military absentee ballots “has been exposed” and clerks are not required to have “an up-to-date, complete, verified, current, accurate and distributed military elector list” in violation with Wisconsin law. In light of this alleged violation, the plaintiffs requested that all military absentee ballots be “sequestered” so that “verification can be completed before they are counted” to prevent any ballots “cast by non-qualified persons casting military elector absentee ballots, if any, from being counted.”
In today’s oral order rejecting the Republican plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction, the judge held that the plaintiffs’ requested relief is unwarranted. The judge stated that the plaintiffs’ request to sequester military absentee ballots would amount to a “drastic remedy” that would “temporarily disenfranchise” military voters. The judge found that although Wisconsin law requires clerks to maintain an updated list of military voters, “no clerks are before” him right now and he is therefore unable to order clerks to take any specific action at this time. Additionally, the judge granted a motion to intervene filed earlier today by the Union Veterans Council and Merchant Marine Captain Timothy McDonald. Finally, at the end of today’s hearing, the judge concluded that “every legitimate military vote should be counted.” This decision is a major victory for Wisconsin military voters whose validly cast ballots will be rightly counted in tomorrow’s midterm elections.