The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday greatly limited the use of ballot drop boxes and ruled that voters may not give their completed absentee ballots to others to return.
This decision is considered a win for Republicans who have argued that unmonitored ballot drop boxes might have facilitated voter fraud in the last presidential election, Axios reported.
Wisconsin has long used ballot drop boxes, but in 2020, election clerks greatly expanded their use, The Washington Post reported.
By the time the November presidential election rolled around, there were more than 500 drop box locations throughout the state.
The new ruling ensured that won’t happen again, however, with the court saying in its opinion that “ballot drop boxes are illegal under Wisconsin statutes.”
The court also banned the practice of “ballot harvesting,” ruling that voters must return absentee ballots themselves.
“The key phrase is ‘in person’ and it must be assigned its natural meaning,” Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority in the court’s ruling.
Bradley said Wisconsin law doesn’t allow the use of drop boxes anywhere other than election clerk offices, and only the state Legislature has the power to change that policy.
Although the court ruled against the broad use of ballot drop boxes, it was a slim 4-3 decision.
“Some citizens will cheer this result; others will lament,” Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote in a concurring opinion. “But the people of Wisconsin must remember that judicial decision-making and politics are different under our constitutional order. Our obligation is to follow the law, which may mean the policy result is undesirable or unpopular. Even so, we must follow the law anyway.”
The case began last year when the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty filed a lawsuit over the use of ballot drop boxes on behalf of two suburban Milwaukee men, Richard Teigen and Richard Thom.
The lawsuit argued that the use of drop boxes “causes doubts about the fairness of the elections and erodes voter confidence in the electoral process.”
It said Teigen and Thom “are entitled to have the elections in which they participate administered properly under the law.”
In January, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled in their favor.
Bohren concluded that state law did not allow for unstaffed ballot drop boxes and instead required absentee voters to return ballots in person or mail their ballots themselves.
The Supreme Court’s decision comes one month before Wisconsin’s Aug. 9 primary elections.
These primaries are being closely watched as the state’s voters will narrow down the race for governor and U.S. senator.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.