Wisconsin lawmaker files ballot harvesting complaint with election regulators

The Wisconsin Elections Commission is once again being asked to weigh in on who can return ballots. On Tuesday, a state Senator filed a complaint with the commission, claiming the city of Racine is allowing people to return ballots for other voters.

Updated: April 6, 2022 - 12:19am

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The Wisconsin Elections Commission is once again being asked to weigh in on who can return ballots.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, on Tuesday filed a ballot harvesting complaint with the Commission, claiming the city of Racine is allowing people to return ballots for other voters.

“The law has been clear for months – you must return your own ballot.” Wanggaard said. “Racine is intentionally ignoring the law. Not liking the law doesn’t make it okay. Hoping for a different Supreme Court ruling in a few months does not make it okay. The law is the law.”

Tuesday is Election Day in Wisconsin, and local races are on the ballot. Wanggaard’s challenge came as local election managers in Racine were getting started for the day.

A Waukesha County judge ruled last January that only voters can return their own ballots. The ruling was part of a challenge to ballot drop boxes, which Republicans such as Wanggaard said opened the door for ballot harvesting.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld that ruling back in February.

“The city of Racine is openly flaunting the circuit court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Elections Commission guidance,” Wanggaard added.

In addition to accusing Racine’s election managers of ignoring the law, Wanggaard’s complaint says the city of Racine is essentially disenfranchising voters in parts of Racine County.

“There is a Court of Appeals election, and county-wide elections happening today,” Wanggaard said. “Voters from all over are voting in those elections. The City of Racine is allowing ballot harvesting, but other municipalities voting in the same election are not. This is granting Racine voters additional rights, and an outsized influence in those elections.”

The Elections Commission has not commented on Wanggaard’s challenge yet.

But the issue of ballot harvesting as well as different rules for different election offices is sure to arise again. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is supposed to hear arguments in a case that will decide the issue of drop boxes sometime before the November election.