Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) last week over its unlawful guidance allowing absentee voters to change their votes after their ballots are cast.
In an Aug. 1, 2022, memorandum sent to all Wisconsin municipal clerks, WEC instructed that after a voter submits an absentee ballot, he can request to “spoil” that ballot and receive a new one if he changes his mind or makes a mistake. Furthermore, in an Aug. 2 memo, WEC allows clerks to “invalidate” a “spoiled ballot” on behalf of the voter.
Such guidance violates Wisconsin statute, which states that a voter possesses the exclusive authority to spoil his absentee ballot before it is submitted, not after. If the voter spoils his absentee ballot before he casts it, he must return the ballot to the clerk (who then destroys it) and request a new one.
With WEC’s new guidance, however, a clerk may invalidate a “spoiled” ballot on behalf of the voter, thereby increasing the potential for fraud or abuse in the absentee voting process.
“RITE is working to protect Wisconsinites from unfair and unequal election procedures,” RITE’s President and CEO Derek Lyons said in a press release. “Once a vote is cast, it is cast. Period. WEC is breaking the law and courting disaster by allowing individuals to retrieve their cast ballots and alter their votes. The discretion WEC gives to local officials undermines the integrity of the ballot box and disrupts the uniform and transparent administration of elections throughout the Badger State.”
RITE is asking the Waukesha County Circuit Court for immediate injunctive relief “prior to the start of absentee ballot voting for the November 8, 2022, election.” The election integrity group is suing on behalf of Wisconsin voter Nancy Kormanik and her right to fair and equal treatment.
During the 2020 election, Wisconsin processed nearly 2 million absentee ballots statewide.