It is expected that Wisconsin will soon have answers about ballot boxes and who can return absentee ballots.
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Richard Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission is scheduled for argument Wednesday morning in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
There is a challenge to the Elections Commission’s guidance to election administrators that voters can leave their ballots at drop boxes, or vote via another voter.
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“[State law] says there are only two ways to return an absentee ballot, you mail it or you deliver it in-person to the clerk. And a drop box is neither of those, which is why they’re not allowed,” according to Luke Berg, senior counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. “But the other side says ‘Well, ya know it doesn’t say clearly that you can’t have a drop box.’”
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is representing the plaintiff.
Drop boxes and absentee ballots have been a hot topic in Wisconsin for months.
In January, a Waukesha County judge ruled drop boxes are not allowed by state law. However, the court of appeals reversed the decision and in February the Wisconsin Appeals Court ordered counties and cities to use drop boxes during primary elections. In the meantime, the Wisconsin Supreme Court banned them from the election in April pending its decision in the case.
In some municipalities, including Milwaukee, drop boxes were still used during the April election.
It is hoped that the argument on Wednesday will put an end to the controversy.
“This should be the final decision from the court on both ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting. We should get an answer on both of those questions,” Berg asserted. “Now, the other side has some arguments as to why the court shouldn’t answer those questions now. They say [WILL doesn’t] have standing, and we should have gone a different procedural route. But I highly doubt the court will go that route.”
It is true that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is dominated on paper by conservatives, but swing Justice Brian Hagedorn frequently sided with the court’s liberals. In a recent decision on ballot drop boxes, Hagedorn supported conservatives.
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report on Tuesday revealed that ballot drop boxes and absentee ballots were treated differently in different communities during last week’s election.
Moreover, the ruling could affect a challenge submitted by Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, who claims that Racine’s decision to let voters return other people’s ballots disadvantaged some voters in the county.
Last week Wanggaard said, “The law has been clear for months – you must return your own ballot. Racine is intentionally ignoring the law. Not liking the law doesn’t make it okay. Hoping for a different Supreme Court ruling in a few months does not make it okay. The law is the law.”
Wanggaard continued, speaking of last week’s election, “There is a Court of Appeals election, and county-wide elections happening today. Voters from all over are voting in those elections. The City of Racine is allowing ballot harvesting, but other municipalities voting in the same election are not. This is granting Racine voters additional rights, and an outsized influence in those elections.”
Arguments in the Richard Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission will be heard by the high court on Wednesday morning.
Republic Brief reported on Wisconsin’s very serious election problems last month:
A special counsel investigating possible irregularities in Wisconsin’s 2020 election found that 91 nursing homes in the counties of Milwaukee, Racine, Dane, Kenosha, and Brown turned out 95% to 100% of their voters compared with 67% in the nation as a whole in 2020 and 60% in 2016.
Nursing home data includes only votes cast at facilities that the special counsel “has been able to vet to this juncture,” according to a report prepared by retired state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman for the state Assembly. “There are more facilities in these counties, and after auditing the votes from other facilities, the above percentages may change.”
It was reported by the Racine County Sheriff’s Office last November that the state Attorney General’s Office was investigating alleged illegal directives issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission to bypass the state’s Special Voting Deputy process, under which the clerks of municipalities provide enough ballots for residents to cast their votes and help voters cast their ballots.
Residents of nursing homes were mailed absentee ballots instead. Under the guise of “help” from facility staff, residents of the facility who family members believed couldn’t vote were coaxed to vote.
Phillip Kline, director of election integrity watchdog The Amistad Project, which investigated nursing home participation rates for the Wisconsin Voter Alliance, told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s quite remarkable: There’s private money flows in, government-hired voter navigators go after nursing homes, and suddenly, 90-some-odd nursing homes in Wisconsin have 100% turnout, even if people — who, unfortunately, due to their health conditions — are unable to read, think, or contemplate voting.
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“And now we have videotaped depositions and interviews with their family members saying, ‘My loved one hasn’t been able to vote for years and has been deemed to be incompetent.’”
The Amistad Project released a video interview with Wisconsin election clerk Linda Sinkula last year. She noted that she feared the 2020 election “wouldn’t be a fair election” due to private funding of public election administration.
For the administration of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, the Center for Tech and Civic Life received $8.8 million from Mark Zuckerberg.