Appeals court reinstates limits on early voting in Wisconsin, bans faxing and emailing ballots

After three years, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on a series of questions pertaining to voting methods and ID law in Wisconsin

Last Updated:
June 30, 2020 - 4:26pm

Wisconsin has reinstated limits on early voting and is requires voters to be a resident for at least a month prior to an election.

The decision Monday by a three-judge panel also banned most absentee ballots being emailed or faxed to voters, and reinstated a a law that limits early voting to roughly two weeks before an election. Some cities in Wisconsin have allowed voters to cast their ballots for many weeks before election day.

"We do not see a substantive problem with days-and-hours limitations. They leave all voters with equal opportunities to participate," wrote Judge Frank Easterbrook for the court's unanimous opinion.

The court upheld a decision allowing college students to use expired college IDs to vote and prohibited the state from mandating that colleges provide citizenship information about their students who are voting.

This decision comes after three years on the court's docket. It was the oldest pending case on which the 7th Circuit court of appeals had yet to rule.

In 2016, U.S. District Judge James Peterson, in Madison, struck down restrictions on early voting and several other voting laws that he determined discriminated against minorities. Monday's decision overturned parts of Peterson's ruling.

The court decision, which will impact the residents vote in November, fell along partisan lines -–angering the state Democratic party and earning praise from Republicans. All three judges were appointed by Republican presidents.

"Wisconsin already has some of the most permissive election laws in America and today's ruling ensures that Wisconsinites have equal access to the polls regardless of where they live," said Andrew Hitt, the chairman of the state Republican Party.

Ben Wikler, chair of the state Democrats said of the ruling, "There is no low they aren't willing to stoop to to grab power."

Wisconsin is a battleground state for the upcoming presidential election and will likely be watched closely in the coming months. 

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