Wisconsin Elections Commission silent on ballot dropbox ruling

“If elections are conducted outside of the law, the people have not conferred their consent on the government,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in the 4-3 decision. "Such elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate.”
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Wisconsin election count
Election officials count absentee ballots on Nov. 4, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisc.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The people who manage Wisconsin’s elections are silent about the new ruling that bans ballot drop boxes.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission says it is waiting until after a Tuesday meeting to, perhaps, comment on the ruling then.

“The Wisconsin Elections Commission is currently reviewing the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling in Richard Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission,” the Commission said in a terse statement Friday. "Commission Chairperson Don Millis has scheduled a full meeting of the Commission on Tuesday, July 12 to discuss the ruling ahead of the August Partisan Primary and November General Election. The Commission may provide further comment at a later time.”

The Wisconsin Supreme Court called out the Elections Commission in its ruling against ballot drop boxes, spelling out that Wisconsin law does not allow them and saying the Commission shouldn’t have either.

“Only the legislature may permit absentee voting via ballot drop boxes,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in the 4-3 decision. "WEC cannot. Ballot drop boxes appear nowhere in the detailed statutory system for absentee voting. WEC’s authorization of ballot drop boxes was unlawful. We conclude 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.”

The Elections Commission offered “guidance” to local election managers in 2020 that said drop boxes could be used.

Commission members defended that guidance by saying the coronavirus required certain public health accommodations.

Justice Bradley said that the drop boxes went beyond the scope of state law and only helped to sow distrust in the 2020 election results.

“If elections are conducted outside of the law, the people have not conferred their consent on the government,” Bradley wrote. "Such elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate.

“The Wisconsin voters, and all lawful voters, are injured when the institution charged with administering Wisconsin elections does not follow the law, leaving the results in question.”

Many of Wisconsin’s local election managers say they stopped using drop boxes earlier this year when a Waukesha County judge declared them illegal.

Milwaukee and Milwaukee County’s election managers on Friday expressed their disappointment in the loss of drop boxes, but said they too will follow the Supreme Court ruling for the upcoming elections in August and November.