On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Republican majority outlawed ballot drop boxes by a 4–3 vote, abolishing a reform that had made voting easier and more accessible in the state. The lead opinion—authored by the notorious fringe-right reactionary Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley—contains alarming language casting doubt on the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. It also grants credence to the GOP’s collapsing “investigation” to prove that illegal votes put Biden over the top in Wisconsin. Without a shred of evidence, the court has thrown its weight behind a dangerous conspiracy theory that helped to fuel the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In her opinion for the court in Teigen
, Justice Grassl Bradley declared that every single drop box was illegal, and every citizen who used this method cast a ballot illegally. Why? The justice added a word to the statute, insisting that voters must return absentee ballots to the municipal clerk’s office
. Returning a ballot to some other location under the exclusive control of the clerk does not suffice. Moreover, Bradley held that only the voter may return their ballot to a municipal clerk; a family member or friend may not do it for them.
The court’s implication could not be more obvious: The 2020 election was “unlawful,” so the results—and, specifically, Biden’s victory—are “illegitimate.”
As Justice Ann Walsh Bradley explained in dissent, Wisconsin law simply does not impose these requirements. (Side note: The existence of two Justice Bradleys with polar opposite ideologies is one of several befuddling features of the current court.) There are several statutes that do discuss the office of the clerk, but this isn’t one of them. The law only demands delivery to the clerks themselves. A drop box “is set up by the municipal clerk, maintained by the municipal clerk, and emptied by the municipal clerk.” Placing a ballot in a drop box is, under any reasonable reading, delivering a ballot to the clerk.
In an inflammatory decision, the far-right justices declared that illegal votes “polluted” the election.