Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that state election statutes prohibit the use of election drop boxes.
The opinion in Teigen v. Wisconsin Election Commission disagreed with the published interpretation of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) regarding the issue. The WEC had taken the position that during the pandemic, drop boxes could be both permanent and unstaffed.
The court took umbrage with this approach. They held that under state rules a person’s ballot must be delivered, either by mail or in person.
The word delivered was interpreted to mean at the office of a municipal clerk or designated alternate site. Drop boxes do not qualify under existing statutes in Wisconsin.
The ruling will help put a stop to ballot harvesting. This practice is when a third party, typically a political operative, collects absentee ballots from voters’ homes and drops them off at either a drop box or polling place.
The chance of fraud increases when ballot harvesting is allowed. In Arizona, for example, a former state official is about to be sentenced this week for illegally collecting ballots in this manner.
It is unknown how widespread ballot harvesting is in states like Wisconsin, there does not need to be very much improper voting to swing elections as it is a highly contested state. In the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden only prevailed over Former President Donald Trump by approximately 20,600 votes.
Only 20% of Americans say that they are very confident in election integrity in the United States according to an ABC/Ipsos poll. The gap in confidence is especially pronounced among conservatives and Republicans.
There have been widespread calls for election reform across the nation. As differing legislative approaches work through the political system, rapid changes will only occur when state courts take action to interpret existing laws.
In Wisconsin specifically, there is high support for election reform and enforcing existing laws. There is 87% support for voter identification required by the state, for example.
Americans are slowly coming to terms that our elections are not as secure as in prior decades. The support is there, however, to keep working on enforcing current laws and filling gaps with new legislation.