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Wisconsin Justice Department appeals ballot drop box ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Justice is appealing a judge’s ruling restricting the use of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed notice with Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren on Thursday that he is appealing Bohren’s ruling to the 4th District Court of Appeals.

The judge ruled Jan. 13 that drop boxes can be located only in local election clerks’ offices and no one other than the voter may deposit an absentee ballot in them.

Election officials in a number of Wisconsin cities placed drop boxes in multiple locations, including in city parks, during the 2020 presidential election. Democrats support such efforts, saying it makes voting more convenient and using drop boxes is safer than standing in long lines at the polls as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Republicans have been pushing to restrict their use after Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump, saying having so many drop boxes opens the door to fraud. The GOP has been unable to produce any evidence of any widespread fraud in the 2020 election, however. Numerous lawsuits, recounts and other probes have upheld Biden’s victory and determined there was no widespread fraud.

Bohren’s ruling is part of a lawsuit two Milwaukee voters filed in June against the Wisconsin challenging the use of drop boxes. The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is representing them. The Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is represented by the DOJ, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Wisconsin Faith Voice for Justice and the League of Women Voters oppose the action.

Bohren scheduled a hearing Friday afternoon to consider the defendants’ request to stay his ruling. If it remains in effect, no drop boxes could be placed outside clerk’s offices for the upcoming Feb. 15 spring primary election.

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