On Friday, July 8th the Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled that absentee ballot drop boxes were illegal. Popularized during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, counties across Wisconsin and the United States utilized secure drop boxes as a means to return absentee ballots throughout the 2020 election cycle without incident.
As A Better Wisconsin Together Executive Director Chris Walloch explains, “Many Wisconsin voters with disabilities rely on using drop boxes due to ableist barriers that restrict their ability to vote in-person or make their way to a clerk’s office.”
The 4-3 decision by Wisconsin’s highest court comes after months of confusion for Wisconsin voters, just weeks before statewide partisan primaries in which absentee ballots are already being cast. While the decision and resulting inability for voters to rely on drop boxes going forward has received widespread coverage from state news organizations, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s role in prohibiting drop boxes has flown mostly under the radar.
In March, Johnson urged the State Supreme Court to prohibit drop boxes ahead of his own election this fall. Just months before facing the voters himself, after breaking his promise to only seek two terms in office, why was Johnson so focused on making it more difficult for Wisconsinites to vote?
The ban on drop boxes ploy is only the latest maneuver from Johnson that is undermining faith in election administration and the results of elections. Recently, the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack revealed Johnson’s attempt to pass fake elector documents to former Vice President Mike Pence moments before Congress convened on January 6th, 2021.
Johnson was also outed recently for playing a role in the purge of the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s last remaining Republican who refused to back the ‘Big Lie’, Trump and his allies attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Any single one of these actions to meddle in election administration by a partisan politician about to face voters should raise serious concerns about that individual’s commitment to free, fair, safe, and secure elections.
In the case of Senator Johnson and the litany of efforts he’s undertaken to meddle in how elections are conducted and ballots are counted, those concerns should be grave.
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