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Republicans Appeal Wisconsin Leftist Judge’s Order Changing Absentee Ballot Rules

Voters test how long it takes to receive an absentee ballot
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The judge’s order permits voters with certain disabilities to electronically obtain an absentee ballot.

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GOP lawmakers in critical swing-state Wisconsin are appealing a far-left Dane County judge’s decision sidestepping state election law and allowing voters with disabilities to electronically obtain absentee ballots. 

The order also has drawn the concerns of Wisconsin’s Democrat-led Department of Justice, which argues that the electronic distribution of ballots to certain disabled voters presents significant security and logistical challenges. 

Interestingly, the legally suspect order was issued by Judge Everett Mitchell, who took heat years ago for asserting at a public forum that shoplifters who steal from big-box retailers shouldn’t be prosecuted

Tens of Thousands of Voters

Majority Republicans in the legislature last week filed their notice of appeal with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals 2nd District seeking to stop the implementation of Mitchell’s order. 

Late last month, Mitchell sided with plaintiffs, including Disability Rights Wisconsin and the League of Women Voters, in a lawsuit asserting that eligible voters with print-reading disabilities who require assistance must forego their right to a secret ballot under current state law. 

The lawsuit contends that Wisconsin is not currently complying with “myriad accommodation and equal-access requirements under state and federal law … to ensure that voters with disabilities receive the equal protection guaranteed under the Wisconsin Constitution to cast their votes in secret, like Wisconsin voters without disabilities.”

The judge’s order permits voters with such disabilities to electronically obtain an absentee ballot. Only military members and those traveling overseas are currently permitted to electronically obtain absentee ballots in Wisconsin. 

Mitchell granted the liberal groups’ motion for emergency declaratory relief and a temporary injunction, enjoining “provisions of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibiting municipal clerks from distributing absentee ballots by email,” the legislature’s notice of appeal states. The judge also ordered the Wisconsin Elections Commission “to facilitate the delivery of emailed ballots to self-certifying print-disabled electors for the November 2024 general election.” And Mitchell “declared that to be accessible, an emailed absentee ballot must be capable of being read and marked by digital assistive technology such as a screen reader.”

The sight-impaired voters would still have to return completed ballots in person or by mail, like all other Badger State absentee voters, according to Mitchell’s order. 

“Nearly 100,000 Wisconsin adults suffer from vision difficulties, according to statistics compiled by state health officials,” The Associated Press reported. 

Changing the Rules

Misha Tseytlin, attorney for the Republican lawmakers, said he forwarded The Federalist’s request for comment to his clients. The lawmakers have not responded. The Associated Press reported that the GOP legislators will argue that the Dane County judge was wrong in granting the temporary injunction in part because Mitchell’s order disrupts election law late in the election year.  

Josh Kaul, the Badger State’s leftist attorney general, seems to agree with the GOP lawmakers. His attorneys in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, according to the AP, argued that changing the rules at this late stage of the game would cause confusion and present security risks. They also assert that there isn’t enough time to educate hundreds of local elections officials around the state on new procedures before the presidential election. 

“This court cannot change the rules of the election now … regardless of how hard or easy it is to make those changes,” Assistant Attorney General Karla Keckhaver told Mitchell at a June 24 hearing. 

Mitchell’s order also changes election statutes that clearly define who can and cannot obtain absentee ballots electronically.

Wisconsin Democrats have long attempted to expand mail-in voting, while Republicans have sought to check election integrity threats.  

Leftist Court of Last Resort

Left-wing Democracy Docket, founded by Russia dossier peddler and Democrat Party fixer Marc Elias, declares the obvious in a recent post. 

“The state judiciary will play a role in determining where and how Wisconsinites cast their ballots this fall, as judges weigh a number of important cases like the drop-box prohibition before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In that case, the majority-liberal bench is considering whether to overturn a July 2022 decision handed down by a conservative majority in Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission that virtually banned the use of drop boxes in the state,” the leftist lawfare-associated site notes. 

The courts could play a pivotal role, as they did in 2020, in determining the winner of the election in battleground Wisconsin — and ultimately who wins the White House. Wisconsin’s liberal-majority Supreme Court has already signaled how it will inject itself into the election, while Mitchell proved once again why Democrats and their election integrity-attacking allies take their complaints to the Dane County Circuit Court. 

Mitchell was first elected to the court in 2016. He unsuccessfully ran last year for the state Supreme Court seat that was eventually won by far-left candidate Janet Protasiewicz, who repeatedly signaled during her campaign that she would protect the left’s agenda and has shown as much during her first year on the bench. 

Before being elected to the Dane County bench, Mitchell served as director of community relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During a 2015 panel discussion, Mitchell, who is black, said law enforcement officials were too aggressive in arresting and prosecuting shoplifters stealing from “big box” stores. The retailers have insurance, after all.  

“I just don’t think that they should be prosecuting cases … for people who steal from Wal-Mart,” he said at the time. “I just don’t think that. I don’t think Target or all them other places, the big boxes that have insurance, that they should be using … the fact that people steal from there, justification to start engaging in aggressive police practices.” 

Mitchell, who formerly worked as a prosecutor with the “social justice”-pushing Dane County district attorney’s office, declared that law enforcement agents cracking down on retail theft were justifying why “they’re going to overpolice our children.” 

So perhaps it’s no surprise that the far-left Dane County judge is being accused of disregarding the law and election integrity as he — from the bench — makes significant changes to Wisconsin election statute.  


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