A Waukesha judge ruled Wednesday that Wisconsin voters cannot cancel an absentee ballot that they have already mailed back just so they can cast a new ballot.
Former Republican Attorney General and Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Brad Schimel granted a permanent injunction “which will contain substantially the same terms” as the injunction he granted in October of 2022.
The suit was launched in September of 2022 by Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections on behalf of voter Nancy Koranic who claimed that the Wisconsin Elections Commission illegally told clerks in August of 2022 that so-called “ballot spoiling” was legal.
Both the Democratic National Committee and Rise, a left-leaning group, intervened on behalf of the state commission.
Schimel ruled that Wisconsin laws contain no language “that would authorize the scheme whereby a clerk spoils the ballot for the elector, at their request and sends out a new blank ballot for a do-over.”
Schimel also ruled that the legislature requires strict safeguards and rules to protect absentee voting and that any rules need to be scrutinized so that ballots are fairly counted.
“That is arguably a harsh rule, because it could result in a voter not having their vote counted, and it might not be the fault of the voter that the procedures were not followed,” Schimel ruled. “The point: WEC and all election clerks had better get it right, or voters will be disenfranchised. This court had better get it right, too.” (RELATED: These States Are Gearing Up For A School Choice Shutdown In 2024)
Wisconsin has seen several lawsuits relating to absentee ballots since the 2020 election, with a judge ruling in September of 2022 that guidance allowing election clerks to fill in missing information on absentee ballot witness certificates was illegal.
The state has emerged as a critical swing in the electoral college for presidential contests. The Democratic nominee for president has won the state in every election since 1988, with the exception of 2016, when former President Donald Trump won. It was an important victory that helped pierce the midwestern “blue wall” and propel Trump to the White House.
In 2020, President Joe Biden recaptured the state for Democrats by a slim margin of around 20,000 votes. Some analysts attributed this flip back to Democrats to pandemic-era elections rules governing absentee voting.