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Wisconsin court brings back ballot drop boxes, but status of Green Bay's container 'up in the air'

Posted at 10:41 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 23:41:14-05

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — As spring primary elections approach in just three weeks, some people may not go to polls to cast their votes.

Before the 2020 presidential election, nearly two million Wisconsinites requested absentee ballots.

"With that amount of people voting absentee, not going to the polls anymore, we have to have more collection sites for them," State Rep. Lee Snodgrass (D-Appleton) said.

On Monday, a state appeals court reinstated ballot drop boxes just over a week after a Waukesha County judge banned them anywhere outside a city clerk's office.

"If those drop boxes were taken away at this point, some of those might actually have ballots in them," Snodgrass said. "And we want to make sure that we're not messing with the way people's ballots and votes get in too close to the election."

Almost two years ago, the City of Green Bay placed six containers around the area. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Elections Commission told municipalities they could place them wherever they'd like.

"It is safe and secure," Snodgrass said. "They're almost always on a municipal grounds, a government grounds. Lots of the Appleton ones were at fire stations, so we know that these are safe, secure places."

But according to city clerk Celestine Jeffreys, with time running out before Feb. 15, the possibility of having a drop box in Green Bay is "up in the air."

"I would not believe that there should be unlimited ballot boxes," State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) said. "Have some outside the municipal building."

The upcoming election includes non-partisan school board and city council appointments.

"This is an alternative to mailing them, because some people are nervous about the mail," Cowles said. "Especially since we've had a couple episodes where the mail didn't get there."

Politicians on both sides of the aisle say the ruling on ballot boxes could change at any moment.

"If you pick them up at that box — maybe one location, maybe several locations — then it's right into the clerk's office to be counted," Cowles said.