Wisconsin Republicans change their tune on ballot drop boxes ahead of state Supreme Court ruling


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  evilone  •  one week ago  •  12 comments

By:   NBC News

Wisconsin Republicans change their tune on ballot drop boxes ahead of state Supreme Court ruling
If the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstates the broad use of ballot drop boxes, Republicans in the key battleground state say they'll be prepared to encourage their voters to use them in this year's presidential election — even though they've heavily criticized that method of voting in the past.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

May 15, 2024, 10:00 AM UTCBy Adam Edelman

If the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstates the broad use of ballot drop boxes, Republicans in the key battleground state say they'll be prepared to encourage their voters to use them in this year's presidential election — even though they've heavily criticized that method of voting in the past.

Wisconsin Republicans say it will be one part of a multipronged approach in anticipation of the expanded use of drop boxes in the state, with another element likely to be a monitoring program to look for fraud and abuse by Democrats.

The strategy underscores an ongoing shift in attitudes toward early and alternative voting methods within the GOP nationally. Republicans all the way up to former President Donald Trump had until recently falsely claimed or insinuated that the drop boxes were a source of fraud during the 2020 election.

"We have to deal with the law the way it is, not the way we wish it was or the way we hoped it would be some day," state Republican Party Chairman Brian Schimming said about the possibility the party's approach to the legality and use of drop boxes could change."We have to deal with things as they are, not maybe how we wish they were sometimes, and that's going to apply to drop boxes."

It would be "malpractice" not to make sure GOP voters who want to use them do so if their use is expanded, Schimming said.

"It doesn't mean we have to like them. It doesn't mean that we won't fight them in court if they increase the potential of problems," he added.

Schimming and other Republican officials said that approach — toward drop boxes and early voting more generally — predated Monday's oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, at which a liberal majority signaled it was poised to overturn a ruling less than two years ago that had banned the use of most absentee ballot drop boxes. If the court decides to effectively reinstate the use of most of the boxes, it would have large ramifications on the presidential election in the state.

National Republican Party officials were reluctant to provide specifics about plans in Wisconsin, citing the hypothetical nature of the yet-to-be-announced state Supreme Court decision, but they said the approach moving forward will certainly include monitoring state election processes, including drop boxes, for fraud and encouraging Republicans to take advantage of the voting methods offered to them.

"Wisconsin law, in a case decided only two years ago, clearly bans drop boxes," Republican National Committee spokesperson Claire Fortenberry Zunk said in a statement. She accused Democrats of "jumping to open the system up to fraud and chaos ahead of the presidential election."

"Regardless of the outcome, we urge all Republicans to make a plan to vote by the method that works best for you," she said.

Seeming to accept of the possibility that drop boxes will be back in Wisconsin this fall further signals that some Republicans have increasingly emphasized the importance of early and absentee voting.

While Trump's repeated attacks on absentee voting have made it tougher for Republicans who see a desperate need to encourage more ways to cast ballots, Trump himself has begun softening his stance. In recent weeks, he has posted on Truth Social about how "absentee voting, early voting and election day voting are all good options," urging Republican voters to "make a plan, register and vote!"

Still, some Republicans have refused to let go of the narrative that drop boxes were the subject of fraud and abuse by Democrats in the 2020 election and said the approach if the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules to expand their use could include monitoring efforts to make sure no fraud occurred. (There is no evidence suggesting that fraud or abuse occurred in the use of drop boxes during the 2020 election in Wisconsin.)

Democrats widely embraced drop boxes during the 2020 election and are expected to do so again this fall.

Schimming said there are several "options on the table" — "and some of them may be the observation of drop boxes." The Republican National Committee has promised to deploy up to 100,000 volunteers and attorneys to battleground states to protect the vote, and Schimming wouldn't rule out that drop box monitors could be among them.

He also wouldn't rule out the idea that Republicans in the state could encourage supporters to practice "ballot harvesting" — a phrase conservatives use to describe when absentee ballots are dropped off at or mailed to local elections clerks' offices by people other than the ones casting the votes. Republicans have long slammed the practice, which remains a gray area in Wisconsin law.

"I have to have it as an option on the table," Schimming said.

Wisconsin law is silent on the issue of ballot drop boxes. State officials had used them somewhat sparingly for decades but expanded their use during the 2020 election, which occurred amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the number of absentee ballot drop boxes had risen to 570. They were in 66 of the state's 72 counties, according to court filings. Milwaukee and Dane counties — which are Democratic strongholds — had 29 drop boxes between them.

In a case brought by conservative groups, the state Supreme Court ruled in July 2022 that Wisconsin voters casting absentee ballots would no longer be able to drop them in boxes anywhere except at election clerks' offices. The court said only the Legislature — controlled by Republicans — has the power to enact laws and policy about absentee ballot drop boxes, not the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

But after liberals won back the court majority last year, the progressive political action committee Priorities USA filed a suit explicitly seeking to overturn the 2022 ruling.

Republican critics have said drop boxes were an illegal and unconstitutional device that helped drive turnout in the Democratic-heavy counties they were predominantly in. An amicus brief filed in the current case by the state Republican Party and the Republican National Committee claimed overturning the 2022 ruling and expanding their use would "sow chaos" in the 2024 elections. Democrats and progressives in the state filed numerous briefs urging the court to overturn its 2022 decision.

The plethora of briefs from both parties underscores how close elections are in Wisconsin — where four of the last six presidential races have been decided by less than 1 percentage point.

The legal seesaw over the broader issue reveals that both parties understand what's at stake, said Jay Heck, the executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, the state's branch of the national nonpartisan government watchdog group.

"It could make a difference around the margins," said Heck, whose group filed an amicus brief in support of overturning the 2022 ruling. "But, you know, the small margins are important in Wisconsin."

190612-adam-edelman-byline-30064.jpg Adam Edelman

Adam Edelman is a political reporter for NBC News.

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jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Guide
1  seeder  evilone    one week ago

Well that only took 2 days... 

Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  evilone @1    one week ago

They saw how well it worked in 2020 and are now willing to embrace it

Professor Principal
1.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.1    one week ago

the idea of maga relics folding up like lawn chairs in bad weather while waiting in line to vote was compelling...

Professor Guide
1.1.2  seeder  evilone  replied to  Trout Giggles @1.1    one week ago
They saw how well it worked in 2020 and are now willing to embrace it

No, not really. Since they no longer control the State Supreme Court they have no choice but to embrace it.

Professor Participates
2  Snuffy    one week ago

Perhaps the Republican party is finally going to start to embrace early voting? It's only been going on for how many election cycles now? They do need to change how they do business and work to get their message out earlier, waiting until October before they start the major advertising has been a stupid decision for many years now. I believe that Minnesota and South Dakota have the earliest opening for early voting at 46 days before election day.

Professor Principal
2.1  devangelical  replied to  Snuffy @2    one week ago

some of the maga blowhards still insist that all voting take place and get counted the same day, by 170+ million voters...

proving a zero concept of mathematics and logistics...

Professor Guide
2.2  seeder  evilone  replied to  Snuffy @2    one week ago

I am for anything that increases participation.

Professor Principal
3  Kavika     one week ago

Wait, what!!! the damn dems stole an election because of ballot boxes...Everyone knows that don't they? 

LMAO this is just too funny and it sure hurts the stolen election nonsense.

Professor Guide
3.1  seeder  evilone  replied to  Kavika @3    one week ago
...it sure hurts the stolen election nonsense.

We still have a group of people in the State Legislature here in WI clinging to that nonsense. Hopefully some of them will be unemployed soon.

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
4  Sean Treacy    one week ago

Well duh... 

If the rules are changed to allow cheating, than you have to play by those rules.  elections are going to be decided by who harvests ballots from the incapacitated, homeless, and insane more efficiently. 

Professor Principal
4.1  Kavika   replied to  Sean Treacy @4    one week ago

Ah, yes Wisconsin where the Republican fake electors made their stand, and the WI Supreme Court tossed Trumps lawsuit on the 2020 election.


Greg Jones
Professor Participates
5  Greg Jones    one week ago

Colorado has early voting 8 days before a primary, or 15 days before a general election. You can go to voting centers that will give you the correct ballots for your precinct or simply drop it in the locked drop box outside. If you received your ballot in the mail you can mail it back, or use the drop boxes to save the cost of stamps. Ballots must be received by 7 PM. 

No need to wait until election day or stand in long lines like before. We've had this system for several election cycles now and it's pretty foolproof. 


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