Wisconsin ballot spoiling is a no-go after court upholds ban

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Wisconsin ballot spoiling is a no-go after court upholds ban

By SCOTT BAUERyesterday

A sign is seen outside a polling station Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, in Milwaukee. Tuesday is the first day to vote early in Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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A sign is seen outside a polling station Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, in Milwaukee. Tuesday is the first day to vote early in Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin appeals court is refusing to block a lower court’s ruling prohibiting voters who already submitted an absentee ballot from voiding it and voting again, a rarely used practice known as ballot spoiling.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals decided Thursday against hearing an appeal of a Waukesha County circuit court judge’s ruling this month in favor of a conservative group founded by prominent Republicans.

That ruling required the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission to rescind its guidance that allowed the spoiling of ballots that had already been cast. Voters who obtained an absentee ballot, but have not yet voted and want to obtain a new one, can still do that.

The elections commission held an emergency meeting Friday, less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election, and unanimously voted to rescind the guidance issued in August detailing how an already cast ballot could be spoiled.

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Very few voters have actually spoiled their absentee ballots after voting in recent elections, data provided by the elections commission to The Associated Press shows.

In the August primary, just 3,519 people cast a new ballot after spoiling their original one, less than 0.3% of all votes cast, the data shows.

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In the 2020 presidential election, nearly 33,000 voters spoiled their ballots and cast new ones, nearly 1% of all votes. In that election, President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by 20,682 votes.

In the 2018 midterm election, 369 ballots were spoiled and recast, just .01% of all ballots.

There’s no way to know how many of the spoiled ballots were from Democrats or Republicans since voters in Wisconsin do not register by party.

Wisconsin voters have been submitting absentee ballots by mail for weeks and in person since Monday. As of Friday, more than 397,000 ballots had been cast either by mail or in person, according to the elections commission.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are both on the ballot in tight races. Johnson’s race could determine which party has majority control of the Senate and the next governor will be in position to either enact or reject bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature heading into the 2024 presidential election.

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