The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has filed a complaint against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) for the city of Racine’s use of an absentee voting van in violation of state law. The complaint argues that Racine’s mobile voting unit does not comply with a Wisconsin statute that prohibits absentee balloting locations that confer a partisan advantage.
According to a report by WILL, Racine purchased an absentee voting van using funds it received in 2020 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) — a Mark Zuckerberg-funded left-wing nonprofit — in anticipation of the 2022 elections. Leading up to the Aug. 9, 2022, primary, the voting van visited 21 designated locations around the city “distributing and collecting ballots at each over the 14-day period of in-person absentee voting prior to Election Day.”
But as the report states, the absentee voting van was assigned to wards that vote at a higher percentage for Democrats, thereby conferring an advantage to the Democratic Party in direct violation of Wisconsin state law. Furthermore, the law states that absentee voting sites must “be located as near as practicable to the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners.” The WILL report found that Racine did not follow this statute in choosing the voting van’s designated locations.
“Racine’s use of mobile voting sites violates clear directives in state law on the collection of absentee ballots at alternative sites. WEC must make clear that Racine is violating the law and ensure that clerks across the state understand what is, and is not permitted in Wisconsin law,” WILL Deputy Counsel Anthony LoCoco said in a press release.
Additionally, state law stipulates that if the city uses alternative voting sites, then “no function related to voting and return of absentee ballots that is to be conducted at the alternate site may be conducted in the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners.” However, for two weeks leading up to the Aug. 9 primary, early absentee voting also took place at the city clerk’s office at Racine’s city hall.
Other watchdog groups have raised concerns about Racine’s use of the mobile voting van and its potential for fraud and abuse. The Election Transparency Initiative tweeted, “Is casting a ballot on the side of the road and in parking lots—just like ordering lunch—a recipe for fraud, abuse & mismanagement?”
Such a mobile voting unit will also make it difficult to enforce a Wisconsin statute that prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place, the WILL report argues. The legality of using a transitory vehicle for absentee voting is also suspect, as Wisconsin law only references “buildings” when describing polling places.
WILL’s complaint comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in July that absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal under state law.