Judge refuses to allow Wisconsin clerks to fix errant ballots

Wisconsin’s Elections Commission has until end of Wednesday to withdraw instructions to local election clerks.

Updated: September 13, 2022 - 11:25pm

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Wisconsin’s Elections Commission has until the end of the day Wednesday to tell local election clerks that they cannot add missing information to absentee ballots in November.

A judge in Waukesha on Tuesday refused to stay his order from last week that struck down the Commission’s guidance on ballot curing.

“Full, fair, and free elections are paramount,” Waukesha County Judge Michael J. Aprahamian said in court. “But they need to be according to law. And the law has always been that these addresses need to be on these certifications. And I find that the guidance provided [by the Commission] was contrary to that law.”

Aprahamian first ruled last week that the Elections Commission must tell local election clerks they cannot add missing information to ballots. A number of groups including the League of Women Voters asked for a stay. Aprahamian shot that request down on Tuesday.

“I think they’re missing what the issue is in this case, with their kind of strawman arguments,” the judge said.

The League and other left-leaning groups argued that voters would be hurt, confused, or disenfranchised if the Elections Commission changed its guidance. But Aprahamian said the Commission’ guidance was almost entirely internal and was never sent to voters directly.

“I don’t believe there is a change with the voters. The voters were told what is required on the form,” Aprahamian added. “The guidance that is being provided is not guidance provided to the voters. It is guidance provided to clerks and local election officials as to what they are to do when faced with potentially incomplete addresses on absentee certifications.”

This is the second time the Elections Commission has been told to end its ballot curing guidance. Republican lawmakers voted back in July to have the Commission rescind its guidance, but the Commission refused.

The Elections Commission was scheduled to meet late Tuesday to discuss the judge’s latest ruling.