In a resounding victory for election integrity in WI, the State Supreme Court has ruled that unmanned dropboxes are unlawful and that the guidance issued by the Wisconsin Elections Commission in 2021 permitting their use was invalid.
…We hold the documents are invalid because ballot drop boxes are illegal under Wisconsin statutes. An absentee ballot must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk at the clerk’s office or a designated alternate site…
The documents referred to in the ruling are the two guidance documents issued by WEC instructing the clerks of Wisconsin to allow dropboxes and further, that individuals other than the elector may collect and deposit absentee ballots:
…In response, WEC Administrator Meagan Wolfe issued the first document (“Memo one”), which was directed to municipal clerks and other local election officials. The memo states: “[Ballot] drop boxes can be used for voters to return ballots but clerks should ensure they are secure, can be monitored for security purposes, and should be regularly emptied.” It also says, “[a] family member or another person may . . . return the [absentee] ballot on behalf of a voter.” WEC’s commissioners never voted to adopt this memo…
…A few months later, Administrator Wolfe and the assistant administrator issued the second document (“Memo two”) ahead of the fall 2020 election. It encourages “creative solutions” to facilitate the use of ballot drop boxes. Specifically, Memo two informs municipal clerks that drop boxes can be “unstaffed,” and states “[a]t a minimum, you should have a drop box at your primary municipal building, such as the village hall.” WEC commissioners never voted on Memo two either….
There were 570 dropboxes in place by Spring of 2021. It is unacceptable for election administration officials to circumvent the law or to instruct election officers to ignore statutory requirements put into place by the legislature.
An open issue in this case remains: the ‘harvesting’ or ‘trafficking’ of ballots by third parties who then deposited them into the unmanned dropboxes and the apparent coordination between a private funding organization, local elected officials and WEC.
The Thomas More Society continues to engage on this issue:
…“The fact that the legally unauthorized advisory opinions were issued simultaneously with the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s agreement with the Wisconsin 5 cities’ mayors to purchase and use unmanned absentee ballot drop boxes is strong evidence of legally unauthorized coordination to violate Wisconsin’s election laws,” Kaardal noted. “And the Wisconsin Elections Commission could not actually have cited any legal authority to use those unmanned absentee ballot drop boxes because Wisconsin’s statutes read the opposite – that such boxes are ‘legally unauthorized,’ a situation which has since been validated and reinforced by the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in Teigen v. Wisconsin Election Commission.”…
This ruling restores the checks and balances that are an integral part of our system. Election Administrators must follow the law. The law is made by the legislative branch and upheld by the courts. It is not made by election officials. It is a great day for election integrity.