Local clerks scramble to educate voters after judge bans absentee ballot boxes

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Judge Waukesha’s decision to ban the ballot box is being opposed by local secretaries, who remain scrambling to educate voters ahead of the spring primaries.

On Thursday, Judge Michael Bohren of Waukesha County ruled voting box is illegal, and prohibits voters from using more than 500 drop boxes located throughout the state.

The decision comes weeks before the February 15 primary election and days before tens of thousands of absentee ballots will be mailed to voters.

“We’re going to have to scramble, mostly about education, because voters will think they can use a ballot box,” said Scott McDonell, Dane County Clerk. “It’s really frustrating because it doesn’t make any sense.”

While it is expected to appeal the ruling, for now that means voters can only mail their absentee ballot or in person to their local clerk.

Milwaukee Elections Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg said they really put voters and unboxing in limbo for the upcoming elections.

“Wisconsin has a history of making these judicial decisions right before elections that cause confusion,” said Woodall-Vogg.

Drop boxes have become a popular choice for voters over the past two years during the pandemic. Woodall Vogg said it has given voters “a piece of mind” as many fear contracting COVID-19 if they vote in person.

The attorneys who brought the lawsuit argue that drop boxes should never be allowed because there’s no text about them in state law.

“You can search for statute and you won’t find the word ‘drop box’ anywhere,” said Luke Berg, an attorney with the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Freedom. “There’s no limit to where they can go, how many can be there, on how safe they are.”

Woodall-Vogg called Berg’s comments “ridiculous,” noting that all of Milwaukee’s boxes are under 24-hour surveillance, are secured, and have strict chain-of-custody laws.

The city also spent $20,000 to upgrade surveillance cameras to ensure they monitor the falling boxes.

Republican lawmakers have been trying to ban voting boxes since Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin.

They have also passed some serious election bills that limit early voting, limit who can return absentee ballots, and require additional documentation to prove someone is considered an absentee. incarcerated indefinitely.

All measures were blocked by Governor Tony Evers, which Republicans say will restore confidence in our elections.

Democrats have long called these efforts an attack on democracy, and instead advocate making voting easier, not harder, for the people.

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