A Wisconsin judge handed a huge loss to liberal groups and rejected an attempt to allow absentee ballots containing an incomplete witness address to be counted because that would disrupt the status quo and cause confusion less than two weeks before Election Day.
Dane County Circuit Judge Nia Trammell’s ruling was a huge win for the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature which intervened in a lawsuit from a liberal group. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said an address must include three elements: a street number, street name and municipality.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin sued claiming an address can only be missing when the entire field is left blank. “This court does not want to add to the confusion that may arise from a temporary injunction that would all but certainly be appealed on an expedited basis,” Judge Trammell said.
She added she didn’t want to make a ruling that “would upend the status quo, not preserve it and frustrate the electoral process by causing confusion.”
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell has rejected a request from the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin to allow election clerks to accept absentee ballots with incomplete witness address information. https://t.co/39mcZSEGO6
— WPR (@WPR) October 26, 2022
“Our aim is to obtain certainty for voters and the municipal clerks who do the critical work of administering Wisconsin’s elections, and to make sure that every eligible voter may have their voice heard in November,” Dan Lenz, attorney for The League of Women Voters said.
According to PBS:
Very few ballots would likely be affected by the ruling. But it remains an issue because of Wisconsin’s narrow-thin election margins.
Evers, who faces Republican Tim Michels on Nov. 8, won in 2018 by just 29,227 votes. Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by just 20,682 votes.
Trump won Wisconsin by 22,748 votes in 2016.
In 2021, the Legislative Audit Bureau reviewed nearly 15,000 absentee ballot envelopes from the 2020 election across 29 municipalities and found that 1,022, or about 7%, were missing parts of their witness addresses.
Only 15 ballots, or 0.1%, had no witness address.
The issue of what constitutes an acceptable address arose after another judge sided with Republicans and ruled that election clerks aren’t allowed to fill in missing information.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Aprahamian did not rule on what constitutes an address, leading to the League of Women Voters lawsuit.
Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell said changing the state's absentee ballot certification rules this close to the Nov. 8 election would almost certainly create more confusion for voters. https://t.co/yFtgVSdXUK
— BarabooNewsRepublic (@News_Republic) October 26, 2022
Circuit Court Judge Nia Trammell said changing the state's absentee ballot certification rules this close to the Nov. 8 election would almost certainly create more confusion for voters. https://t.co/7MK1NUtOcV
— La Crosse Tribune (@LaCrosseTribune) October 26, 2022