Wisconsin Supreme Court outlaws ballot boxes to fight fraud
On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that made most ballot boxes illegal in the state. The tribunal found this state law, which requires mail-in ballots to be delivered to a “mailbox,” does not allow “delivery to an unattended ballot box.” The decision represents a victory for Republicans in the state, who have consistently tried to ban ballot boxes to reduce the incredibly rare phenomenon of voter fraud.
“Today’s decision is a massive victory for election integrity,” wrote Paul Farrow, the Wisconsin GOP chairman. “Democrats have long abused the practice of ballot harvesting, which undermines voter confidence by interfering with the proper chain of custody of ballots, but with today’s decision, they will be forced to a fair fight that will hold them accountable for their record.”
Ben Wikler, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin wrote in response to the decision that “[n]Regardless of their politics, those who believe in democracy strive to ensure that every eligible voter can vote. With today’s decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is making it harder to vote. It’s a slap in the face to democracy itself.”
Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the decision on social media, saying it should somehow apply to past elections. Following the decision, Trump wrote on the conservative social networking site Social truth that Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos” has a decision to make! Does Wisconsin CLAIM the voters, hand the election to the real winner (by many!) or sit back and do nothing then that our country keeps going to HELL? Brave American patriots already have a resolve on the floor!”
However, concerns cited by Republicans — that drop boxes lead to increased voter fraud via “ballot harvesting” — are overblown. Like CNN reportsballot boxes are “designed and installed to receive ballot papers securely without tampering, theft or other type of fraud – they are designed with anti-tampering measures, fixed to the ground, made with durable materials and often monitored by CCTV .”
Research shows that concerns about voter fraud are often exaggerated and exaggerated. A 2007 report from the Brennan Center for Justice found extremely low rates of confirmed voter fraud, “between 0.0003% and 0.0025%”, arguing that “[i]An individual is more likely to be struck by lightning than impersonating another voter at the polls. Washington Post 2016 election report found only four confirmed cases of electoral fraud.
But in the wake of Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, Republican politicians have escalated allegations of widespread voter fraud. Several states have launched baseless election investigations and conducted lengthy recounts as Republican lawmakers hope to demonstrate enough evidence to warrant “decertification” of state electoral college votes. In Wisconsin, allegations of voter fraud continue to dominate the state Legislature, taking the form of an ongoing investigation led by a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice (who was recently found in contempt for refusing to comply with requests for public record regarding his apparently partisan scrutiny of the election two years ago).
Available evidence indicates that the United States has incredibly secure elections. Attempts by politicians to cast doubt on the integrity of elections and pass laws that make it harder to vote are largely aimed at tipping the electoral balance.
However, voter suppression requests also suffer from exaggeration. Running evidence indicates that many “voter suppression” measures, such as voter ID laws, do not significantly reduce voter turnout. (Although they don’t significantly reduce voter fraud either.)
Contemporary political arguments about how elections are conducted and who can vote largely serve to energize voters of both parties while creating the impression that elections are illegitimate, whichever party wins.