Wisconsin GOP Prepares For Return Of Ballot Drop Boxes

Wisconsin GOP Prepares For Return Of Ballot Drop Boxes

As the GOP makes final preparations for its big Republican party next week in Milwaukee, conservatives in critical swing state Wisconsin are considering their legal options in the wake of a direct assault on election integrity. 

Boxed In

On Friday, the left-led Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed a previous court ruling and endorsed the widespread use of unattended absentee ballot drop boxes in November’s election. The ruling opens the door to the same kind of election shenanigans that plagued the Badger State in 2020. 

“Our decision today does not force or require that any municipal clerks use drop boxes. It merely acknowledges what [state statute] has always meant: that clerks may lawfully utilize secure drop boxes in an exercise of their statutorily-conferred discretion,” the 4-3 ruling states. 

But state statute, as conservative Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley argues in her stinging dissent, does no such thing. Bradley was in the conservative majority just two years ago when the court ruled that the widespread use of unattended absentee drop boxes violated state law. At the time, Bradley wrote for the majority that the statute clearly states that an “absentee ballot must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk at the clerk’s office or a designated alternate site.”

In her dissent to last week’s ruling, the justice wrote that the new bought-and-paid-for leftist majority “forsakes the rule of law in an attempt to advance its political agenda.”

‘Appeal Route’ 

Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) Chairman Brian Schimming certainly agrees with Bradley’s assessment. He told me this week that the GOP’s attorneys are exploring their legal options, whether there are any routes of appeal. But timing is everything when it comes to politics — and the law.  

“[The Supreme Court] waited until it was way late in the process … so even if we did happen to have an appeal route we wouldn’t have a decision until at least before the August primary,” Schimming said. 

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which filed the initial lawsuit challenging the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s guidance allowing unmanned drop boxes during Covid, is also considering its legal options, Nathalie Burmeister, associate attorney for the Milwaukee-based law firm, told me. 

“Our position is, it’s a policy decision that should be left up to the legislature, not the judicial branch,” she said. “The law should be followed as to what it says, and the law does not provide for [unmanned absentee ballot drop boxes].”

‘Pleased About the Recent Announcement’

But Schimming and his fellow Republicans don’t have any time to sit around and grouse about the decision. With less than four months to go before the presumed 2020 rematch of Donald Trump and Joe Biden and control of Congress on the line, Schimming said Republicans will have to play the hand they’ve been dealt. 

He said the state party is rolling out an army of poll workers and watchers to monitor this year’s elections. The Republican Party of Wisconsin has recruited some 5,500 poll workers statewide, the most successful recruitment effort in the party’s history, Schimming said. He expects to bring in another 2,000 observers, some of them positioned at drop boxes. 

“We’re recruiting 100,000 volunteers all across the country,” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley said Tuesday at an election integrity rally in Waukesha. “We want 5,000 of them here in Wisconsin, and we want to make sure that we are in the room whenever a vote is being cast and a vote is being counted.”

Biden claimed a razor-thin victory in Wisconsin in 2020, winning by some 20,000 votes.  

Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city and one of two mega Democrat voting centers in the Badger State, quickly moved to reinstate drop boxes following the Supreme Court ruling. 

“We are pleased about the recent announcement from the state Supreme Court to give cities the discretion to utilize drop boxes,” Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Paulina Gutiérrez told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This is just another opportunity for us to provide a safe and secure way for people to drop off their absentee ballots here to the City of Milwaukee.”

“Milwaukee installed 15 unstaffed ballot drop boxes” in 2020, paid for by $70,000 in grants from the leftist Center for Tech & Civic Life (CTCL), the publication reported. Chicago-based CTCL received hundreds of millions of dollars from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife, Priscilla Chan, to fund local election administration under the cover of the pandemic. As The Federalist has extensively reported, the brunt of “Zuckbucks” went to Democrat-led cities in battleground states like Wisconsin. Emails show liberal groups embedded in local elections offices, including a longtime Democratic Party operative who was given the keys to the room where absentee ballots were stored in Green Bay. 

Wisconsin voters in April approved a ballot question banning the use of private funding in election administration. 

Milwaukee is ready to redeploy some of the fruits of the Zuckbucks largesse. 

“Drop boxes that were struck by vehicles at the Election Commission warehouse at 1901 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and at the Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd., are being evaluated and possibly replaced,” the Journal Sentinel reported.

‘We Use Them or Lose’

The Republican National Committee and its presidential nominee have changed their tune on the use of early and absentee voting and ballot harvesting. They are now touting the same tools Democrats have for years successfully used to rake in ballots.

Schimming said the Wisconsin party will adapt on drop boxes, as well. When asked if the RPW would push drop box usage, the chairman said, “Yes.” 

“That might sound like a strange thing coming out of the state Republican Party chairman, but remember, we did have drop boxes in the ’14 and ’16 elections in Wisconsin,” he said. “Are they desirable? No. Do I think they should be illegal? Yes. But as state party chair I have to deal with reality, not what I wish reality was. I could spend my time between now and the first Tuesday in November complaining about drop boxes, but if that’s going to be the law, we use them or lose.” 


Matt Kittle is a senior elections correspondent for The Federalist. An award-winning investigative reporter and 30-year veteran of print, broadcast, and online journalism, Kittle previously served as the executive director of Empower Wisconsin.

Originally Posted on: https://thefederalist.com/2024/07/11/wisconsin-gop-prepares-for-return-of-ballot-drop-boxes-in-novembers-election/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=wisconsin-gop-prepares-for-return-of-ballot-drop-boxes-in-novembers-election
[By: M.D. Kittle

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