Wisconsin is lagging behind other swing states in shoring up election policies following 2020 chaos

Wisconsin Trails Other Swing States in Strengthening Election Policies After 2020 Turmoil

Four years ago, Wisconsin was at the heart of Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. The state witnessed a flood of legal actions aimed at disqualifying a large number of votes, primarily from Democratic voters. These efforts focused on exploiting specific state policies regarding early and absentee voting, particularly those votes cast by individuals who were either confined or had disabilities, and instances where election workers filled in missing details on ballot envelopes.

The battle reached the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which at the time had a conservative majority. By a narrow margin of one vote, the court rejected Trump’s attempt to overturn the election outcome. Despite this, as the next presidential election approaches, Wisconsin’s lawmakers have made little progress in preventing a repeat of such a scenario. The state’s legislature has not introduced any significant changes to address the issues with absentee ballots that Trump tried to leverage. Furthermore, they have not eliminated loopholes that could allow for the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission, responsible for overseeing the state’s elections, has offered some guidance. However, it continues to face partisan attacks and calls for the impeachment of its top official. This situation contrasts sharply with actions taken in other swing states targeted by Trump and his allies following the 2020 election. For instance, Michigan has seen comprehensive reforms to election security and ballot counting, while Pennsylvania’s governor has introduced an election security task force aimed at safeguarding the voting process.

In Wisconsin, however, many issues remain unresolved. These include concerns about ballot drop boxes, voting accessibility for disabled and elderly individuals, and the overall protection of the election oversight process, which has been under constant threat. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell and Jay Heck, the executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, both express concerns over the lack of significant change in the state’s approach to election security.

The state’s decentralized election administration and the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s struggles with conspiracy theories and threats significantly hinder progress. Additionally, the Republican-controlled Legislature has blocked several bills proposed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers that sought to address various election issues. Despite a comprehensive review finding no evidence of wrongdoing in the 2020 election, Republican lawmakers have continued to push bills that could restrict voting rights, only to be vetoed by Evers.

The future of ballot drop boxes, critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, remains uncertain following a 2022 Supreme Court ruling against their widespread use. The court’s decision to revisit this ruling offers a glimmer of hope, but concerns about potential changes favored by Trump allies loom large. Upcoming constitutional amendments on the April 2 primary ballot further highlight the influence of conspiracy theories on the state’s election laws.

Despite these challenges, some Democrats see the recent shift in the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s composition as a key defense against efforts to undermine future elections. The court now has a liberal majority for the first time in 15 years, offering hope for a more democratic approach to election oversight. However, the lack of proactive measures to secure elections remains a significant concern for many in the state.