Opinion: Wisconsin Supreme Court makes mistakes in banning ballot boxes

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Milwaukee installed absentee ballot boxes in 2020, including this one at the Milwaukee Election Commission warehouse at 1901 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

As business leaders, we believe that a high level of social trust is essential in building strong organizations and communities. Responsible business leaders work hard every day to demonstrate that relationships between employees, managers and customers are fair and transparent. In addition, for all of us to be successful, our businesses must operate within a system of democratic governance that inspires the trust of all segments of society.

In our view, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent ruling to ban ballot boxes is a step against the restoration of confidence, taken without any justification arising from the law or genuine concern for the integrity of elections.

Without considering the legal merits of the case, it’s pretty clear that nothing in the law required this conclusion, as dissenting judge Ann Walsh Bradley wrote in part:

“Can a drop box delivery be a delivery ‘to the municipal secretary’? Absolutely. A deposit bin is set up by the municipal secretary, maintained by the municipal secretary and emptied by the municipal secretary. This also applies if the deposit bin is located somewhere other than within the municipal secretary. Such as said the ‘town clerk’ in the statute is a person, and the ‘town clerk’s office’ is a location. If we apply this principle, there is nothing in the statute to indicate that unattended drop boxes are not allowed.”

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So why make this radical change? After all, not all Wisconsinites are free to take time off from work to be in the polls on Election Day. Nor can all employers afford to give employees paid leave to vote. Missing ballots that must be returned by the voter to the polling station during that office’s opening hours are a problem for many workers, especially those who juggle more than one job, don’t live near a polling station, or don’t have a car. Likewise, depositing ballots in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox shortens days of available time to vote. All of these obstacles hit low-paid workers the hardest.

A very strange feature of majority opinion is a certain rhetorical jiu-jitsu. First, it reminds us that there have been allegations of fraud related to the 2020 Wisconsin election. However, no widespread fraud was found in any of the investigations, audits and reviews conducted by numerous organizations – including the group that filed the Teigen case. Inevitably, the logical conclusion is that we have a process that people can rely on. Not so fast. Remember that some politicians keep saying that “people have a lot of questions about the 2020 elections”. Why does anyone have any questions? Because these politicians keep saying that people are questioning the election. The Court has done its best to give oxygen to this dangerous lie that has already been systematically debunked.

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Perhaps the most irritating head-scratcher is this bit from Judge Rebecca Bradley in the majority opinion:

“Throughout history, tyrants have claimed electoral victory through elections that violate applicable law. For example, Saddam Hussein was reportedly elected in 2002 by the unanimous vote of all eligible voters in Iraq (11,445,638 people). Examples of such corruption are countless in history. In the 21st century, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was elected with 100% of the vote in 2014, while his father, Kim Jong-il, previously won 99.9% of the vote. Former President of Cuba, Raul Castro, won 99.4% of the vote in 2008, while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was elected with 97.6% of the vote in 2007… Even if citizens of such countries are on a ballot, they only have a hollow right. Their rulers derive their power from violence and deceit, not from the consent of the people. In Wisconsin, on the other hand, “elected officials derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” ”

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What? Are we being told that before the elimination of drop boxes, our state was comparable to Iraq, North Korea, Cuba and Syria? Excuse us if we didn’t all go to law school, but this kind of false equivalence would not only fail the approval of a business case at one of our companies, it would also question the rationality of the speaker.

Wisconsinites have a right to feel they have a stake in a system that is fair and rewards hard work and good faith. Unfortunately, as long as this ill-considered judgment stands, many of those who work the hardest in our communities will feel powerless and disillusioned for good reason and for good reason.

More: How, where and when to vote for the August primary in Wisconsin and who’s on the ballot?

More: Wisconsin DOJ launches investigation into plan to fraudulently request ballots to prove voter fraud

David Irwin is the Waukesha-based founder and general partner of the Hiawatha Group. He was previously business president at Fiserv Inc. Cory Nettles is the CEO of Generation Growth Capital Inc. He is the former Wisconsin trade secretary.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Opinion: Wisconsin Supreme Court Errors in Banning Polls

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