Judge Makes Huge Ruling On Absentee Ballots

A judge in Wisconsin last week placed a permanent injunction banning so-called “ballot spoiling,” a decision that will prevent Wisconsin voters from canceling an absentee ballot they already mailed to request a new ballot so they can vote again, Courthouse News reported.

In September last year, the conservative group Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections sued the Wisconsin Elections Commission on behalf of Waukesha County voter Nancy Kormanik, alleging that the commission unlawfully advised election clerks and Wisconsin voters that ballot spoiling was allowed in the state.

The following month, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Brad Schimel granted a temporary injunction banning the practice until the case could be heard in court.

In his ruling on November 29, Judge Schimel made the injunction permanent, handing Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections a major victory in its fight against the practice of “ballot spoiling.”

While the state’s Elections Commission was the defendant in the case, the DNC and the left-leaning advocacy group Rise intervened on the commission’s behalf in the lawsuit.

In his ruling for summary judgment, Judge Schimel cited Wisconsin law which describes absentee voting as a privilege rather than a right. He said there is nothing in state law that authorizes a “scheme” where an election clerk can spoil a ballot at the request of a voter and send out a new ballot “for a do-over.”

The judge dismissed the defense argument that Nancy Kormanik lacked standing to sue the commission, saying under binding precedent, she had “at least a trifling interest in her voting rights,” particularly in light of the Wisconsin Legislature’s commitment to guarding against election fraud.

Schimel noted that the state legislature concluded that the risk of fraud from absentee voting necessitated strict safeguards and rules, and any ballot that violates the rules should not be counted.

The judge conceded that the rule may be “harsh,” but argued that this is one of the reasons that the commission and election clerks “had better get it right” to prevent voters from being disenfranchised.