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Wisconsin decide weighing case over incomplete addresses on ballots

A Wisconsin decide thought-about Tuesday whether or not to clarify that native election officers can settle for absentee ballots lacking components of a witnesses deal with, the newest authorized combat within the battleground state the place Republicans oppose the acceptance of partial addresses.

The case was introduced by the League of Girls Voters of Wisconsin final fall, weeks earlier than the midterm election. The crux of the lawsuit, and one other related pending case, rests with how a lot of a witness deal with must be current to ensure that an absentee poll to depend.

Wisconsin legislation says if the witness deal with is lacking, the poll cannot be counted. However state legislation doesn’t outline what constitutes lacking. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Fee hasn’t stated what constitutes a lacking deal with. Nevertheless it has issued steering on what constitutes an deal with, saying it should comprise three parts: a road quantity, road identify and municipality.


“There’s no definition of lacking on the market, which implies (the election fee) is failing the clerks, it’s failing the folks of Wisconsin by not figuring out what it ought to imply for functions of poll counting,” argued Dan Lenz, an lawyer for the League of Girls Voters.

The Republican-controlled Legislature argues that an deal with is “lacking” if any a kind of three parts shouldn’t be current. The League of Girls Voters asserts that solely ballots fully lacking an deal with, not only one a part of it, mustn’t depend. The league argues that the state’s 1,800-plus native election clerks are making totally different choices about what constitutes an deal with, including that would result in ballots being tossed in a single place whereas being counted in one other.

The Legislature requested the decide to dismiss the declare searching for a courtroom order defining what constitutes a lacking deal with. The Legislature argues that native elections clerks, not the state elections fee, ought to have been those sued.

A Wisconsin judge is hearing a case over partial addresses on absentee ballots.

A Wisconsin decide is listening to a case over partial addresses on absentee ballots. (AP Picture/Wong Maye-E, File)

Dane County Circuit Choose Nia Trammell stated Tuesday following transient oral arguments that she intends to difficulty a written ruling inside a month.

In 2016, the elections fee stated that native election clerks may fill in lacking info deal with info to make sure the ballots are counted. However a decide in September sided with Republicans and dominated that election clerks aren’t allowed to fill in lacking info. Waukesha County Circuit Choose Michael Aprahamian didn’t rule on what constitutes an deal with, resulting in the League of Girls Voters lawsuit.

The league is represented by Truthful Elections Middle and Regulation Ahead, legislation companies which have represented liberal teams suing over voting rights in Wisconsin.


Trammell and one other Dane County decide refused to take emergency motion within the weeks main as much as the November election to make clear the absentee poll deal with difficulty, saying it could trigger complicated heading into the election.

An analogous lawsuit is pending, introduced by the liberal group Rise Inc., which inspires college students to vote. The swimsuit seeks a ruling that partial addresses should be accepted on absentee ballots.

Only a few ballots are returned in Wisconsin with lacking or incomplete witness addresses.


The Legislative Audit Bureau in 2021 reviewed almost 15,000 absentee poll envelopes from the 2020 election throughout 29 municipalities and located that 1,022, or about 7%, have been lacking components of their witness addresses. Solely 15 ballots, or 0.1%, had no witness deal with.

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