Wisconsin Public Radio

Supreme Court Rules Against Drop Boxes

570 absentee drop boxes used in 66 counties barred by state high court beginning with April election.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Feb 12th, 2022 12:10 pm
A SafeVote dropbox. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A SafeVote dropbox. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The on-again, off-again saga of absentee ballot drop boxes continued in Wisconsin Friday with the state Supreme Court ruling that the boxes won’t be allowed for the state’s April 5 election.

The court’s order was not a final decision and will not affect the Feb. 15 primary, where drop boxes will still be allowed.

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren ruled last month that absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal in Wisconsin, siding with conservatives in a lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Bohren wanted his order to take effect almost immediately.

A state Appeals Court issued a stay of that Bohren’s ruling, temporarily blocking it from taking effect for the Feb. 15 primary. The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld that stay, keeping drop boxes in place for at least one more election.

The state Supreme Court said it was too close to the February election to change the rules for voting, but in Friday’s order, justices ruled that there was enough time to make the change ahead of the April 5 election.

“This is a different inquiry,” wrote the court. “The record before us, including the timetable for making the necessary administrative changes as outlined by the court of appeals, indicates that the (Wisconsin Elections) Commission can comply.”

While the order 4-3 was unsigned, it was handed down by the court’s conservative majority. Conservative swing Justice Brian Hagedorn, who sided with liberals in the earlier ruling on drop boxes, sided with conservatives in Friday’s decision.

Writing for the dissent, liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said the court’s ruling had made it more difficult to vote.

“Municipal clerks will likely feel a sense of whiplash,” Bradley wrote. “Procedures that were in effect for at least the last two years regarding drop boxes and absentee voting are now no longer in effect, but may be again in a few months. The majority’s order is seemingly oblivious to the practicalities of election administration.”

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there were 570 absentee ballot drop boxes being used in Wisconsin by spring of 2021, spanning at least 66 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

Friday’s order was not a final ruling in the case, meaning justices have yet to decide once and for all whether drop boxes will be allowed in Wisconsin. That means it’s still unclear whether they’ll be permitted in Wisconsin’s upcoming August primary and November general election, two contests with much higher voter turnout.

Listen to the WPR report here.

Wisconsin Supreme Court rules absentee ballot drop boxes not allowed in April election was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

7 thoughts on “Supreme Court Rules Against Drop Boxes”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    The white supremacist Republican federalist whores strike again. Jim Crow 2.0.

  2. Neal Brenard says:

    Want to use a drop box to vote? Sign up for permanent absentee mail in voting. Remember to vote every time and you can use a drop box for the rest of you life. Easy.

  3. TransitRider says:

    Mail-in absentee voting will still be allowed, right?

    So, unattended USPS mailboxes openable by keys held by tens of thousands of USPS employees are legal, but Milwaukee’s drop boxes with tamper-proof seals and 24-hour video surveillance aren’t.

    Drop boxes like Milwaukee’s are MORE secure, more reliable (everyone has a USPS horror story about lost or delayed mail), and less expensive (no postage needed) than using USPS. Why would anybody try to increase government costs while making voting LESS secure???

  4. Thomas Sepllman says:

    I am still waiting for the history of the Drop Box All citizens have a RIGHT to take their ballot to the clerks office Now as we know many Towns do not have 9-5 or 8 -5 full time clerks and so the DROP BOX appeared outside the door of the clerks office and NO ONE said boo about it. Let’s get the history of when it started and for what reasons etc.


    Peace Tom Spellman

  5. fred@fredbellpaintings.com says:

    Discouraging citizens from voting is the action of desperate losers.

  6. gerrybroderick says:

    Ah, Republicans! Democracy’s tarpit.

  7. Mingus says:

    Have the Republicans thought that not having drop boxes will make it harder for some of their supporters to vote?

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