Appeals Court Rules Against GOP Attempt To Remove Ballot Drop Boxes

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A three-judge panel on a Wisconsin appeals court has ruled that drop boxes for mail-in ballots can, in fact, be used for upcoming primary elections in the state, temporarily reversing a decision of a judge from a lower Wisconsin court. This latest development only affects the upcoming primaries, which are scheduled for February 15, and the appeals court judges noted that the imminence of these primaries weighed on their decision. Changing the rules with just weeks until Election Day could lead to unnecessary confusion about the process among voters. Going forward, the appeals court is set to decide at some point in the future on drop box rules for elections after the February primaries.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that, in Wisconsin, “[state] law does not explicitly mention ballot drop boxes,” and earlier this month, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren used this fact as a basis to rule against the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots statewide. Bohren “ruled ballot drop boxes could not be used in Wisconsin because state law says absentee ballots must be returned by mail or in person,” that newspaper notes. After Bohren declined a request from interests including Wisconsin state Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) to lift his ruling for the February primaries, these concerned parties sought intervention from the appeals court. Kaul said that the appeals court “ruling will stop new barriers to voting from being imposed, and almost certainly prevent some Wisconsinites from being disenfranchised, in the upcoming February elections.”

Mail-in voting has often been the subject of conspiracy theories from Republicans about supposed (but in reality non-existent) widespread election fraud. At one point, Trump himself even claimed (without any real-world evidence to back him up) that “millions” of mail-in ballots would be “printed by foreign countries” and used to swing the presidential election outcome, which aptly sums up the general state of Republican distrust of mail-in voting.

Now that the 2020 presidential election is well into the rearview mirror, it’s clear: there is no legitimate reason to doubt the general integrity of the process. Investigations around the country have concluded that there’s still simply no substantive evidence of any kind of widespread fraud. To use one example: Trump pushed claims that thousands of ballots had been cast in the Georgia presidential election in the names of dead individuals… and state investigators found just four such ballots, all of which had been submitted by family members of the deceased — meaning that none of them were part of some kind of (imaginary) widespread conspiracy.