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WI Supreme Court takes up ballot drop box case

Ballot drop box
Sheila Fitzgerald/sheilaf2002 - stock.adobe.com
Ballot drop box

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday took up arguments in a highly watched caseconcerning ballot drop boxes. Supporters of lifting a near-total ban say such a move would help a range of voters across the state.

In 2022, the state's highest court and its then-conservative majority ruled that drop boxes should be limited to election clerks' offices. But with a liberal majority now in place, the court is revisiting the issue. Drop boxes have become popular among voters in a post-pandemic world.

Jenelle Ludwig Krause, who leads the group GrassRoots Organizing Western Wisconsin, said many people benefit from having different places to securely return their absentee ballots.

"Busy farmers who need be on their field when the conditions are dry; it makes it possible for parents that are juggling a million things to cast their ballot; for people with disabilities, for elderly people," she explained.

She added drop boxes aren't just beneficial to certain geographic locations, noting they help voters in both urban and rural areas. Broader debates about this option tend to focus on whether the boxes invite fraud and could be tampered with. But the Bipartisan Policy Center says they're set up by government officials and are often under 24-hour surveillance.

Krause also pointed out that with drop boxes helping voters all around Wisconsin, more people from all kinds of backgrounds would have their say on key issues come election time. She said it's difficult to enact change when a person is weighed down by restrictive voting policies.

"There are special interest groups in Wisconsin that have worked really, really hard to make it hard for regular people in Wisconsin to vote. You know, they want to protect the status quo," she said.

Conservative justices, along with those representing the Republican-led Legislature, were critical of arguments to overturn the 2022 opinion. However, liberal justices appeared receptive to the belief that the original ruling was flawed. Election analysts say the outcome could have a significant impact on the 2024 presidential race, with Wisconsin again forecast as a battleground state.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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