Eau Claire City Hall drop box
A ballot drop box in Eau Claire. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Supreme Court conservatives let a ban on drop boxes stand for April, even after the court protected their use for Tuesday.

Wisconsin voters are able to return absentee ballots to ballot drop boxes in advance of Tuesday’s spring primary election, but a Friday court ruling ensured drop boxes will not be allowed in the April 5 spring election..

In a 4-3 ruling, conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied a request from voting rights groups to block a lower court’s decision to ban ballot drop boxes.

The Supreme Court previously ruled 4-3—with conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn, a swing vote on the court, joining liberals—to allow drop boxes in Tuesday’s election, saying the lower court’s order blocking them was issued too soon to the election and could cause undue confusion or disqualify voters who had already returned ballots.

But the conservative justices on Friday ruled local election officials have enough time to revise their rules before the April 5 election.

“The need for additional relief in the form of an extended stay has not been established,” the majority wrote.

In dissent, liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley argued drop boxes should still be allowed for April 5 and beyond, citing the fact drop boxes have been widely used since 2020 and that voters and clerks could suffer “a sense of whiplash” if the rules change.

“Simply put, the majority upends the status quo in a maneuver that necessarily brings with it confusion, harm, and uncertainty to both voters and election administrators,” she wrote. “The municipal clerks and all voters of this state deserve better.”