State election officials fail to agree on ballot drop box rules

NOW: State election officials fail to agree on ballot drop box rules

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- State election officials couldn't reach an agreement on what to do about absentee ballot drop boxes.

During the Elections Commission meeting Friday, each motion brought forth regarding drop boxes resulted in deadlock, 3-3. The commission is split with three Democrats and three Republicans.

For now, this means WEC will keep their policies in place about drop boxes after Republican lawmakers demanded they issue updated guidance.

"We did everything we could to do an emergency rule pass, it's up to the courts now," said Mark Thomsen, a Democrat on the commission.

Republicans are currently fighting in court to limit drop boxes which were placed throughout the state after absentee ballot requests surged during the pandemic.

Bob Spindell, a Republican commissioner, argued they shouldn't be allowed because there's nothing in state law that authorizes them.

"We do not need drop boxes," Spindell said. "There was nothing in the statute that indicated we could use them. There are still ways people can go vote with multiple locations to do so."

There is nothing in state statute regarding drop boxes. WEC issued guidance encouraging local clerks to use them during the 2020 election to give voters an alternative to casting a ballot in person due to COVID-19.

Democrats on the commission stressed the issue should be left up the State Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court Friday evening agreed to take up the case over drop boxes. They will make a decision in the coming weeks if they can be used in future elections.

The debate surrounding drop boxes became a political issue after former President Donald Trump lost in 2020. This week, Trump also slammed a GOP effort that would have allowed a limited number of drop boxes in larger cities like Milwaukee.

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