MADISON— Today, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin filed an amended complaint ahead of the November election. This federal lawsuit seeks back-up options for mail-in absentee voters who do not receive their ballot in the mail, as well as suspension of the witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots. The existing law suit Gear v. Bostelmann, in which the League challenged the state’s signature witness requirement ahead of the April 7 election, has been expanded to take on the widespread failure to deliver absentee ballots to voters.
“The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin gathered testimonials from over 700 voters who experienced issues casting a ballot in the April 7 election—these are only a subset of the thousands who were disenfranchised,” said Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. “We cannot allow a disaster like our April primary to happen again. We must protect Wisconsin voters in our upcoming elections and restore their faith in our electoral system. Our democracy depends on it.”
This lawsuit comes after Wisconsin’s notorious April 7 primary, in which many voters reported not receiving their ballot in time for the election or even at all. Ahead of the November general election, plaintiffs are seeking additional ways for voters to be able to receive their mail-in absentee ballot, including online access at myvote.wi.gov and email delivery. Voters would still return these ballots through the mail or drop them off. Finally, the plaintiffs ask that the Court order relief to voters struggling to safely comply with the state’s witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots.
“We all watched in dismay as Wisconsin voters were forced to break stay-at-home guidelines in order to cast their ballot in April,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “It is inhumane when voters must put their health in jeopardy to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The League of Women Voters will always stand up to defend voters’ rights to safe access to the ballot box.”
The League of Women Voters is joined in this case by Wisconsin voters Katherine Kohlbeck, Diane Ferbot, Gary Fergot, Bonibet Bahr Olsan, Shelia Jozwik, Gregg Jozwik, Sylvia Gear, and Claire Whelan, as well as Wisconsin Alliance of Retired Americans, and represented by Federal Elections Center and Rathje Woodward LLC.
“Today this case evolves to take on the widespread absentee ballot delivery failures seen in Wisconsin and around the country, as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on,” said Jon Sherman, Senior Counsel at Fair Elections Center. “Voters should never lose their right to vote because a ballot fails to arrive in the mail. Wisconsin election officials already electronically transmit ballots to voters in a variety of ways; these fail-safe options need to be made available to all voters who do not receive their ballot in the mail.”
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
CONTACT: Sarah Courtney | 202-263-1332 | [email protected]