This is the correct ruling. The law is clear. It’s a shame that it wasn’t unanimous. It is also a shame that the court took so dang long to rule. The people deserve a court that acts with some urgency when the ruling will impact ongoing elections.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled Friday that absentee ballot drop boxes may be placed only in election offices and that no one other than the voter can return a ballot in person, dealing a defeat to Democrats who said the decision would make it harder to vote in the battleground state.
However, the court didn’t address whether anyone other than the voter can return his or her own ballot by mail. That means that anyone could still collect multiple ballots for voters and, instead of using a drop box, put them in the mail.
Republicans have argued that practice, known as ballot harvesting, is rife with fraud although there has been no evidence of that happening in Wisconsin. Democrats and others argue that many voters, particularly the elderly and disabled, have difficulty returning their ballots without the assistance of others.
Supporters argue drop boxes are a better option than mailing ballots because they go directly to the clerks and can’t be lost or delayed in transit.
The news story explains the issue poorly. The case wasn’t about whether drop boxes are a good idea or not. The case was about whether the law allows for drop boxes even though state elections officials allowed them. The law does not allow drop boxes. It’s a clear legal determination.
Furthermore, the news story fails to mention that Wisconsin did not use drop boxes at all until the pandemic. Their absence will not make it “harder to vote” in Wisconsin. It may make it harder to cheat, but it will exactly as easy or difficult to vote as it was before drop boxes began illegally appearing all over the state. If the state wants to have drop boxes in the future, it is a matter for the duly elected leaders of the state to pass a law saying so.