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Let lawmakers, not lawyers, decide on voter drop boxes

Wisconsin lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers should do their job to serve all state residents and set common sense rules that allow for use of ballot drop boxes in the state.

Because of their inability, or unwillingness to overcome partisan bickering and reach common ground, the courts are once again being weaponized as political tools rather than being impartial arbiters of the law.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case revisiting its 2022 State Supreme Court decision that prohibited the use of voter ballot drop boxes in the state. The major change between 2022 and now is that last year the state’s high court flipped for the first time in a decade from having a conservative majority of justices to having a liberal majority.

While it is not unheard of for the state supreme court to change its mind on an issue of law, those changes generally occur on a generational basis reflecting broad societal shifts. Revisiting such a relatively recent decision reeks of partisanship with the new court seeking to undo the actions of the previous court.

While righting perceived wrongs is well within purview of the justices, politicizing judicial seats will ultimately harm Wisconsin residents, businesses and others who rely on the stability the courts have traditionally provided. With the court’s balance of power once again in play with next year’s judicial elections, setting a precedent of do-overs could clog court calendars with rehashed legal arguments that serve nothing but to pad the pockets of radicalized political advocacy groups more concerned with getting the last word than enacting positive change.

The crux of the current case rests on if ballot drop boxes should be legal. The drop boxes have been used for some time in the state for voters to return absentee ballots. They gained popularity during the pandemic as a way to make it easier for voters to return their absentee ballots without relying on the postal service or having to wait for the clerk’s office hours.

Opponents say use of the drop boxes gave unfair advantages in low income and minority areas, because it made it easier for people to return their ballots and vote. They also make the argument that because the boxes are not specifically allowed in the law they should not be allowed until the legislature, and not the agency created to administer elections, sets up rules for them.

Voting should be accessible to all citizens regardless of their disposable income or zip code. With the Postmaster General on a crusade to dismantle public trust in the timely and secure delivery of the mail, there is an understandable distrust in relying on mail-in options.

Republicans and Democrats both recognize the need and benefit of allowing drop boxes. In 2021, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill to allow drop boxes and set up regulations for their use. The bill was among the many Republican bills vetoed by Gov. Evers since he took office.

Instead of working together to reach a solution that is good for all Wisconsin residents, the legislative and executive branch are spreading their political dysfunction to the judicial branch of government.

Rather than allowing the courts to be dragged further into the partisan swamp, voters must demand that their legislators and governor work together to reach solutions that benefit all Wisconsinites.

Members of The Star News editorial board include Co-Publisher Carol O’Leary, Publisher Kris O’Leary and Editor Brian Wilson.