Brown v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

Case Name: Brown v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

Type of Case: Election Integrity, Constitutional law, 

Court: Racine County Circuit Court, Supreme Court of Wisconsin

Filed On: August 10, 2022

Current Status: WILL won this lawsuit on January 8, 2024, but an appeal has been filed. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has agreed to take the case. 


January 9, 2024 | The Racine County Circuit Court ruled in our favor, declaring that the City’s use of a mobile voting van at particular sites around the City was illegal under state law. Specifically, the Court found that the mobile voting sites gave a partisan advantage to one political party over others and that state law did not allow the use of a van as an absentee voting site. 


December 1, 2022 | WILL filed an appeal against the City Clerk of Racine, arguing that the utilization of mobile voting sites throughout the community violates Wisconsin state law governing alternate absentee ballot sites.


August 10, 2022 | WILL filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) against the City Clerk of Racine for employing mobile voting sites throughout the community that violate Wisconsin state law governing alternate absentee ballot sites.

The Lawsuit: The City of Racine utilized an unlawful mobile voting van in both the primary and general elections this year to conduct in-person absentee voting. WILL previously filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) on behalf of a Racine voter requesting that WEC require Racine to follow applicable state laws that prevent mobile voting sites and ensure that the sites selected do not grant a partisan advantage. WEC’s Administrator dismissed the complaint and WILL is now appealing that decision to the Racine County Circuit Court.

Background: Wisconsin State Law (Wis. Stat. § 6.855) provides that the office of the municipal clerk is the default location “to which voted absentee ballots shall be returned by electors for any election.” But there may be circumstances when the clerk’s office is unavailable for early, in person absentee voting. In those cases, the clerk may designate an alternate absentee ballot site or sites; but under state law, “[t]he designated site shall be located as near as practicable to the office of the municipal clerk or board of election commissioners and no site may be designated that affords an advantage to any political party.” Additionally, where alternate sites are being used, “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.”

The Racine City Clerk, however, provided for 21 alternate absentee ballot locations (not centrally located but scattered throughout the city) and the majority of which provided an advantage to the Democratic Party because they were located in the most Democratic parts of the City.  She also allowed absentee voting at City Hall; and voting was not done in buildings or fixed locations, but in a mobile vehicle at temporary locations.

All of this is documented in a WILL analysis and is against state law. Wisconsin law contemplates that voting will occur in fixed locations like buildings and not in cars, vans, or buses. Racine’s use of an election van is inconsistent with this principle. Alternative absentee ballot sites must be located in buildings as near to the clerk’s office as possible, cannot confer partisan advantage, and must be the exclusive site for the collection of ballots throughout an election. The Racine City Clerk violated each of these requirements.

WILL urges the court to put an end to Racine’s illegal ballot collection practices.


Lucas Vebber

Lucas Vebber

Deputy Counsel

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