Wisconsin Supreme Court Bans Drop Boxes in the State

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the use of drop boxes is unauthorized under current Wisconsin election laws, effectively banning drop boxes in the state. This ruling comes from a lawsuit filed last summer by conservative activists challenging the legality of drop boxes after the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) issued guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic expanding drop box usage. The 4-3 decision released today by the state’s highest court holds that “only the legislature may permit absentee voting via ballot drop boxes” and “WEC cannot.” 

Because there is no specific law mandating the use of drop boxes, the majority concluded that “WEC’s staff erred by authorizing a voting mechanism not authorized by law. The memos created a ballot drop box scheme entirely absent from Wisconsin’s election code.” This decision means that completed absentee ballots must be returned via one of two ways: Voters can deliver their own ballots in person to a municipal clerk or place their ballots in the mail (the court did not rule on whether “the law permits a voter’s agent to place an absentee ballot in the mail on the voter’s behalf”). In response to the majority’s assertion that election rules created by anyone besides legislators means that “the people have not conferred their consent on the government” and “[s]uch elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate,” the three dissenting justices admonished that the majority opinion “blithely and erroneously seeks to sow distrust in the administration of our elections and through its faulty analysis erects yet another barrier for voters to exercise this ‘sacred right.’”

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.