In a 4-3 ruling on Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to prohibit most absentee voter ballot drop boxes in the state, "handing a victory to conservatives who sought to roll back the option" following the 2020 election, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The court's conservative majority ruled that state law requires an absentee ballot be either returned by mail, or delivered to the local election office by the voter him or herself. The ruling did not mention whether someone voting absentee by mail must put their own ballot in the mailbox.
The decision comes as a pre-election blow to Democrats, as well as voting rights groups and disability advocates, Axios and NPR note. Democrats and party allies believe drop boxes and third-party collection efforts (something critics often call "ballot harvesting") make voting easier and help those who struggle with the system, while Republicans are concerned such practices lead to possible fraud, the Journal notes.
In dissent, Wisconsin Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote Friday that although the majority's opinion "pays lip service to the import of the right to vote," it has "the practical effect of making it more difficult to exercise it."
The new requirements arrive just over a month out from the state's Aug. 9 primary, where state Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R) are both seeking re-election.