Judge strikes down Racine’s use of absentee voting sites which conferred partisan advantages to one party and use of election van for in-person absentee voting
The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) won a lawsuit against the City Clerk of Racine and Wisconsin Elections Commission, securing election integrity in the process.
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.
The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Lucas Vebber, stated “Wisconsin voters should know that their elections are secure, and that election administration does not favor one political party over another. This decision does just that. WILL’s policy and legal expertise allow us to hold government actors accountable to the rule of law at all levels.”
WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, added, “Every citizen should have an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process. We are grateful the Court recognized that the City of Racine broke the law. WILL is proud to provide sound research and to help ensure fair elections for all.”
Background: For the August 2022 primary, nearly two dozen sites were designated where an election van would stop by for several hours of in-person absentee voting before moving to another site over the course of two weeks prior to election day.
The Racine City Clerk allowed absentee voting at both the alternate sites and at a location in City Hall. WILL argued before the Court, citing to our analysis prepared by WILL policy experts, that the alternate sites selected provided a political advantage to the one party over others, contrary to state law. The clerk also allowed “mobile” voting sites throughout the community, violating Wisconsin state law governing alternate absentee ballot sites, as voting should occur in fixed locations like buildings—not in cars, vans, or buses.
That summer, WILL filed a complaint with WEC on behalf of a Racine voter requesting that the Commission 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 appealed that decision to the Court in December of 2022. This Court decision reversed WEC.
This is another victory under WILL’s Preserving Democracy Project. To learn more, check out preservingourdemocracy.org.
- Decision, January 2024
- Stacking the Deck? Racine’s Mobile Voting Unit and Ward Partisanship, Will Flanders and Dylan Palmer, August 2022