Court Holds Illegal Ballot Drop Boxes Tainted 2020 Election

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on July 8 that the ballot drop boxes used in the 2020 election were illegal and harmed Wisconsin voters. Not surprisingly, the media has spun the opinion as a mere change of rules concerning future elections, ignoring the rebuke to the practice in prior elections. The New York Times wrote, “The 4-to-3 ruling by the court’s conservative majority will take effect in time for Wisconsin’s primary elections next month.” 

The case involved two memos authored by the Wisconsin Elections Commission which attempted to supplant Wisconsin law with rules allowing drop boxes and delivery of ballots by people other than voters. The court held that the memos “are invalid because ballot drop boxes are illegal under Wisconsin statutes. An absentee ballot must be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk . . .” The memos encouraged “creative solutions” to facilitate the use of ballot drop boxes and permitted the boxes to be “unstaffed.” 

Over the objection of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which fought to preserve ballot drop boxes, the court found Wisconsin voters had suffered real material injury that gave them standing to challenge the illegal ballot boxes.

The erosion of the system itself causes injury to all voters, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled, adding:

In contrast, the failure to follow election laws is a fact which forces everyone—even DSCC—to question the legitimacy of election results. Electoral outcomes obtained by unlawful procedures corrupt the institution of voting, degrading the very foundation of free government. Unlawful votes do not dilute lawful votes so much as they pollute them, which in turn pollutes the integrity of the results.

Worse yet, the use of the ballot drop boxes makes fraud harder to detect. “There is nothing in the record before us to indicate that any of [the absentee ballots] were actually tampered with by any unauthorized person,” the court noted, “but it is entirely obvious that the opportunity to do so was present.” Further: “When the level of pollution is high enough, the fog creates obscurity, and the institution of voting loses its credibility as a method of ensuring the people’s continued consent to be governed.” 

The court further opined, “purity and integrity of elections is a matter of such prime importance, and affects so many important interests, that the courts ought never to hesitate, when the opportunity is offered, to test them by the strictest legal standards.” 

The court cautioned that the road to tyranny begins with the manipulation of election rules. 

If the right to vote is to have any meaning at all, elections must be conducted according to law. Throughout history, tyrants have claimed electoral victory via elections conducted in violation of governing law. For example, Saddam Hussein was reportedly elected in 2002 by a unanimous vote of all eligible voters in Iraq (11,445,638 people) . . . The right to vote presupposes the rule of law governs elections. If elections are conducted outside of the law, the people have not conferred their consent on the government. Such elections are unlawful and their results are illegitimate. 

Unfortunately, once an election victory has transpired with the assistance of illegal ballot-gathering techniques, it’s nearly impossible to correct the contamination. The court noted, “The illegality of these drop boxes weakens the people’s faith that the election produced an outcome reflective of their will.” According to the New York Times, “It is not possible to determine precisely how many Wisconsin votes were cast through drop boxes in 2020. About 40 percent of votes cast were absentee, though that figure includes ballots returned in the mail and during in-person early voting.” 

One is reminded of the ballot harvesting scandal unearthed by Project Veritas in neighboring Minnesota. A Project Veritas video shows an alleged harvester, Liban Mohamed, in possession of multiple ballots (he claimed 300 in the video) all for a candidate he supported. As the New York Post reported, Minnesota, like Wisconsin, prohibits individuals from handling more than three individual ballots. 

It should be noted that the irregularities described in the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision do not contain a finding of voter fraud. But the failure to follow anti-fraud rules predictably causes disappointed voters to wonder whether the final outcome might have been more reliable had those rules been followed.

It’s too late to fix what happened in 2020. But moving on does not mean Americans should forget the lessons of the 2020 election.

About Adam Mill

Adam Mill is a pen name. He is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness and works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. He graduated from the University of Kansas and has been admitted to practice in Kansas and Missouri. Mill has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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